Handicap parking privileges are reserved for people with medical conditions who have special license plates or rearview mirror placards issued by their state's department of motor vehicles. The placards are usually red or blue, indicating different types of disabilities. They allow the holders to park in special handicap spaces close to buildings or public areas.
Some states issue red placards to people who have a temporary disability. A broken limb or recent surgery are some reasons a person would receive a red placard. The placard can be used with any vehicle in which the disabled person rides.
Most states issue blue placards to people who have a permanent condition, although some states provide them to the temporarily disabled too. Like a red placard, a blue placard can be used in any vehicle its holder is occupying.
Handicap plates are issued to a person who qualifies and has the car registered in her name.
Qualifying conditions for handicap plates and placards include cardiac problems, inability to walk more than 200 feet without resting, use of oxygen and use of an assistive device, such as crutches or a wheelchair. Most states require a doctor's recommendation.
Handicap spaces are clearly marked with a sign showing the international symbol of access. The symbol, a blue square with a simple image of a person in a wheelchair, is usually painted in the space, but it's not required.
It's illegal to park in a handicap spot without the person to whom the plate or placard was issued. Fines start at $250 and can be much higher.