California's Handicapped Parking Rules

Blue handicapped parking symbol in car park
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California's handicapped parking rules are meant to ensure that only those with true disabilities have access to preferential parking spaces. The state has specific requirements for obtaining a handicapped placard or license plate, and also provides penalties for handicapped privileges being misused.


California law requires that only those who have a handicapped placard or license plate may park in special parking spaces for the disabled. To qualify for one of these, an individual must have impaired mobility documented by a health care professional. If you have heart disease, lung disease, visual impairment or do not have the full use of both hands, you may also qualify for handicapped parking privileges, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

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Where You Can Park

Those with disabled person parking privileges may park in any space that has the wheelchair symbol (International Symbol of Access) and along a blue curb where handicapped parking is indicated. They may also park in on-street metered spaces free of charge; in spaces on public streets where parking is usually reserved for residents and business customers; and along green curbs, indicating limited-time parking, for any amount of time.


Even if you have an authorized placard or plate, you may not park, according to the California DMV, in the following areas: along a yellow curb, which is strictly for the use of commercial vehicles; along a white curb, which is used only to load or unload passengers or mail; and along a red curb, which prohibits parking or stopping. It also illegal for anyone to park in a crosshatched area next to a handicapped parking space; these areas must be left open for wheelchair and wheelchair lift access.


Under the California Vehicle Code, it is illegal to misuse a handicapped placard. This includes using someone else's placard, allowing another person to use yours, using a counterfeit placard and using a forged signature of a doctor or other health care professional to obtain a placard.