What Are Red Handicap Parking Placards For?

By Claire Gillespie - Updated March 15, 2018
Man using his wheelchair

Handicap parking placards are used by people with certain medical conditions to allow them to park in designated handicap spaces, typically close to buildings or public areas, and in some cases, be exempt from restrictions when using local parking meters. In the United States, most states issue two colors of handicap parking placards: red placards for people with a temporary disability and blue placards for people with a permanent disability.

Tip

A red parking placard gives certain parking privileges, such as parking in spaces marked with the wheelchair symbol, to anyone with a temporary disability.

Definition of Disability

To be eligible for a parking placard, you must have a medical condition that meets the legal definition of disability as provided by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Generally, anybody with visual impairment, mobility problems or a medical condition that requires them to use a wheelchair, brace, crutch or other assistive device is considered to have a disability. The department of motor vehicles in some states provides a list of impairments that qualify a driver for a parking placard.

Red Parking Placard Eligibility

A red handicap placard, which expires in six months or less, is for a person who has a temporary disability that is expected to improve. In some states, a red parking placard may be renewed, while in others a new application must be made each time. On the other hand, a blue parking placard is for a person who has a permanent disability and is renewable every four years.

Red Parking Placard Application

To apply for a red parking placard, you must obtain the relevant application form online or in person from your local county tax assessor-collector's office. Your doctor or health care provider must complete the disability statement section of your application. You then submit the completed application to your county tax office. Some states may require an application fee.

Red Parking Placard Uses

Red parking placards allow the driver to park in spaces marked with a wheelchair, the international symbol of access. Red parking privileges vary by local rules, partly because curb colors also vary. For example, a red parking placard allows a driver in California to park next to a green curb indicating limited time parking for as long as they wish. Whatever state you are driving in, a red handicap sign is designed to make parking easier for people with temporary disabilities.

About the Author

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.

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