What Do the Different Color Handicap Signs Mean

Dr Handicap - disabled parking permit

While being entitled to a disabled parking permit might seem like a simple distinction between those who are disabled and those who are not, it’s not so straightforward when you get into the nitty-gritty of the rules and regulations. There are a few different colors of handicap placards, and when you first apply for one, it can be tough to figure out which one you’re meant to get. So what do the different color handicap signs mean? And how do you know which one is right for you? 

Dr. Handicap - Wheelchair Sign on Blue Brick

Image by arembowski on Pixabay: What color is a temporary disabled parking permit? Usually they are blue, red, or light blue.

How To Get A Disabled Parking Permit

Before we get into the specific colors of disabled parking permits, let’s look at how to go about getting a permit. If you have a physical or mental disability, chances are you’ll be entitled to a handicap parking permit, no matter which state you live in. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the list of qualifying conditions – that is, the medical conditions that qualify a person for a permit – is different for each state. While there is an 80% generalized crossover, each specific list is decided and approved by the state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). A qualified physician will ascertain whether you are eligible, before giving you a signed affirmation of your disability. This process can be done either in person or online

After you have this documentation completed, you bring it to your local DMV and begin the application process. This should all be very straightforward, as the important part is already done; you won’t be asked any further questions or tested in any way once you have the signed letter from your physician. There is usually no fee to avail of a disabled permit, but again, this is state-dependent. 

What Is The Difference Between Red And Blue Parking Permits?

Before outlining which colors mean what, it is important to note that each state does things a little differently when it comes to disabled parking permits. So make sure you check in with your own state’s DMV if you have any particular questions or concerns. Generally, though, when it comes to handicap placard colors, most states follow a similar pattern. There are essentially three different colors of parking permits: red, blue, and light blue. These are the most common assigned colors in the majority of states.

Red placards are for people with temporary disabilities and are issued as temporary permits. The kind of patients who might require a red placard include heavily pregnant mothers or people with broken bones who have incapacitated movement. These types of permits are usually issued for a period of six months or so. 

Blue placards are for people with permanent disabilities, such as someone who requires a wheelchair or has lost the use of one of more limbs. Though these permits are issued on a permanent basis, they are still subject to renewal laws. The timeframe of this renewal depends on the state.

Light-blue placards are for “wheelchair users only” designated parking spaces. Again, these are issued on a permanent basis, but the renewal period varies from state to state.

What Does A Green Disabled Sign Mean?

On top of the above permit colors, you might also see a green disabled sign or placard. While these are much less common than the red, blue, and light-blue variants, they are still something to be aware of. Green parking placards are issued to organizations that transport disabled individuals. Again, these are subject to renewal; the time period varies from state to state.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking sign

Image by Shutterbug79 on Pixabay

Who Can Use A Disabled Parking Permit?

Whatever the color, it’s important to remember that the only person who can use a disabled parking permit is the person who it was issued to. They must be in the vehicle, as either passenger or driver, when availing of disabled parking spaces. It is an offence for family or friends to take advantage of the placard when the owner isn’t with them, and could result in fines, prosecution, and the loss of the handicap parking permit. Placards are always limited to one per person, no matter which state.

Disability isn’t always black and white, whether you’re talking about conditions or placards. But don’t stress too much about the color of placard you’ll be getting. Your physician and you will discuss whether your disability is temporary or permanent, and you’ll be assigned the correct placard color from there. Any placard allows you to avail of disabled parking; just remember to keep it up-to-date and renewed so you don’t run afoul of the law. Red, blue, or light blue – the color doesn’t matter. What matters is the freedom the permit gives you to get around your home city.

Featured image by gregroose on Pixabay