A person in Arizona with a temporary or permanent disability can obtain a disability plate or placard in order to park in specially marked spaces, or disability parking. Disability plates can only be placed on a specific vehicle that is registered or leased by the person with the disability. The individual should complete a disability-hearing impaired plate/placard application to get disability placards or plates.
Application Eligibility Requirements
The application for disability plates or placards requires the applicant to provide their Arizona ID or driver’s license number. If the applicant is requesting a disability license plate, the individual must provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), year, make and current plate number of the vehicle. The medical certification section of the application form must be completed by an authorized physician (doctor of medicine, osteopathy, podiatry or chiropractic who is licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.); an authorized physician assistant, a registered nurse practitioner or a hospital administrator.
In order to qualify for a disability plate or placard, the applicant must have a medical condition that seriously impairs their mobility. Examples include being unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest; being unable to walk without help from another person or with a brace, cane, crutch, wheelchair or other prosthetic or assistive device; and being severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition.
For a hearing-impaired parking placard or plate, the applicant must be unable to hear or understand normal speech, with or without a hearing aid, in optimal conditions. The medical certification may be waived upon receipt of a Department of Veterans Affairs 100 percent disability certificate, or if the individual has been issued a disability placard or disability license plate from another state.
Placards and Plates Issued by the Motor Vehicle Division
There are permanent disability plates and placards, temporary disability placards and hearing impaired plates and placards. Disability plates may only be issued to a person with a permanent disability. A temporary disability placard is valid for six months. After it expires, the individual must reapply for a replacement.
A hearing impaired plate is in a special, reserved number format that begins with the letter H. Hearing impaired plates alert law enforcement officers and emergency service providers that the driver is hearing impaired, but they do not give the driver or passenger special parking privileges.
Disability plates and placards may not be issued to trailers. If an individual’s current record for a disability plate or placard cannot be located, and the original application is unavailable, the Arizona Motor Vehicle Services office (MVD office) will require a new application. The Arizona Motor Vehicle Services office is akin to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in other states. There is no fee for replacement placards. Most states and Canadian provinces have agreed to honor Arizona disability plates and placards.
Notes on Special Plates
Many special plates offer the option to carry a disability symbol. In order to add the disability symbol to a plate, the individual must complete a special plate application. This application is different from the disability-hearing impaired plate/placard application.
On a personalized plate, the available number of characters is reduced by one character to make room for the disability symbol. There is no extra fee for the disability symbol. An individual cannot order a plate with a disability symbol online. They must submit a disability hearing impaired plate/placard application by mail or the nearest MVD or authorized-third party office.
An individual can add the disability symbol to an existing plate at no extra charge. They may be charged any usual special plate and personalization fees for that plate type. The disability symbol is considered one character, so if the person already had the maximum number of characters for the plate type, the symbol cannot be added. When a vehicle has two license plates issued, there should be one plate on the rear of the vehicle and one plate on the operator’s wheelchair carrier or wheelchair lift when it is attached to the vehicle.
Fines for Illegal Parking
Arizona cities discourage individuals from violating disability parking rules by increasing the fines for this offense. Scottsdale’s fine is $384 for this offense, with the amount rising to $526.40 if the amount remains unpaid for 30 days. Phoenix has a Save Our Space campaign to educate the public about the problem. The city has more than doubled the fine for illegal use of designated accessible parking spaces, with fines ranging from $296 to $565. Phoenix also disallows parked vehicles from blocking accessible curb cuts and ramps.
An Accessible Compliance Enforcement (ACE) volunteer or police officer may issue citations for drivers who park in the yellow striped access aisle next to designated accessible parking spaces. A disabled driver will also be required to pay a fine for this offense.
Paying for Metered Parking
A city or locality may charge for disabled, or accessible, parking in metered spots. For example, Sedona provides that in the uptown area, charges for metered parking apply to accessible parking spaces as well. An individual who parks at an accessible space in a metered zone must display a disability plate or placard in addition to paying at the meter.
Disabled Parking Regulations
Arizona cities have enacted their own rules to make disabled parking, also known as accessible parking, serve people with disabilities. For example, in Mesa, accessible parking spaces must connect to the shortest possible accessible route to the accessible building entrance or facility they serve. An accessible route may not have curbs or stairs, must be at least 3 feet wide and must have a firm, stable slope with a slip-resistant surface.
An accessible parking space must be 8 feet wide, and a van-accessible space must be 11 feet wide. One out of every six accessible spaces must be van accessible. A sign at a van-accessible space must include the phrase, “van-accessible.”
An accessible space must be clearly marked with a vertical sign that is at least 60 inches high, includes the international symbol of accessibility, a person-in-a-wheelchair logo, and is well-maintained. An accessible parking space must have an access aisle, which allows a person using a wheelchair or other mobility device to easily exit the vehicle. An access aisle for a regular accessible space and a van-accessible space must be 5 feet wide.
- Mesa, Arizona: ADA for Business
- Arizona Department of Transportation: Disability Symbol/Hearing Impaired
- Arizona Department of Transportation: Individual Disability-Hearing Impaired Plate/Placard Application
- City of Scottsdale: Fines
- City of Phoenix: Save Our Space Parking Campaign
- Sedona, Arizona: Parking in Uptown
- Arizona Revised Statutes: Section 28-2354 License Plates; Attachment; Civil Penalty
- Arizona Department of Transportation: Special Plates and Placards - FAQ
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.