People with mobility issues are simply not able to park their vehicles far from their destinations. When they have no choice but to park blocks from a store or a medical office, they may just not go at all. While most Americans are obsessed with parking as closely as they possibly can to their final destination, it is more for their convenience than anything else.
But for persons with disabilities that make walking difficult, parking issues are much more significant. That is why there are state and local laws that assign disabled parking spaces in business and commercial areas. The intention is to save nearby parking spots for mobility impaired persons.
Anyone living in Ohio should get an overview of the disabled parking laws in the state. This will help disabled persons understand their rights to access, and keep others from getting fines for violating disabled parking laws.
Persons With Mobility Issues in Ohio
All disabled persons do not necessarily have trouble walking, but mobility limitations are definitely a part of some types of physical or mental conditions. Many states offer disability parking in order to assist those disabled individuals who cannot walk or move easily.
Ohio is one of those states. It has laws in place that provide disability parking privileges to those with mobility impairments. These are available in Ohio for individuals disabled due to one of a list of reasons. The individual:
- Cannot walk more than 200 feet without having to stop to rest.
- Can walk only if using an assistive device such as a brace, crutch, cane, wheelchair, prosthetic device or assistance from another person.
- Suffers from a serious lung disease that reduces respiratory volume. Qualifying individuals have forced expiatory volume less than 1 liter per second. Alternatively, they qualify if they have arterial oxygen tension less than 60 millimeters of mercury on room air at rest.
- Uses a portable oxygen tank.
- Has a heart condition classified by the American Heart Association as Class III or Class IV.
- Suffers from an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition.
- Is legally blind or severely visually impaired.
If the person's condition is expected to last for no more than six months, they are eligible for temporary disability parking privileges. Otherwise, they can get renewable permanent placards or plates.
Disabled Parking for Organizations and Businesses
Ohio provides disabled parking stickers to individuals, but also makes them available to certain organizations and businesses. This is how the application describes those eligible:
“… a private organization or corporation or any governmental board, agency department, division, or office, that, as part of its business or program, transports people with disabilities (limited or impaired ability to walk) on a regular basis in a motor vehicle that has not been altered for the purpose of providing it with special equipment or the use by people with disabilities.”
Disability Parking in Ohio
In Ohio, the state Division of Motor Vehicles issues two types of identification for vehicle owners who need parking assistance: disability placards and disability license plates. These placards and plates are available to disabled persons who live in the state and are certified as having one of the disabilities that limit mobility.
Disability Parking Placards
A disability parking placard in Ohio is not unlike a disability placard in other states. It is a small sign with a wheelchair symbol on it. The placard is intended to be suspended from the rearview mirror of the vehicle. Those with a temporary or permanent disability are eligible for the windshield placard. It is also available to an organization that transports people with disabilities
Temporary placards are available for those with short-term disabilities and also those who are visiting the state. Temporary placards are red and, like permanent placards, must be visible from the front of the car and hung on the rearview mirror.
These are valid for up to six months and are not renewable. If an individual believes that their condition will last no more than six months, but finds that it does, they will have to reapply for another temporary permit, necessitating another trip to the doctor for another medical certification.
Disability License Plates
A disability license plate must be appended to the vehicle just like any other license plate. It replaces the standard Ohio license plates on vehicles. These types of disability license plates are available only to those with one of the qualifying disabilities who owns or leases their own vehicle.
Using a Disability Placard or Plate
Both Ohio disability placards and disability plates can be used only by the individual who applied for the placard. If the disabled person is not in the vehicle, no other person can make use of the disability placard or plate to park in a disabled person's designated accessible parking space.
Note that Ohio recognizes the handicap placards and license plates issued by all other states. Anyone with a disabled placard or plate from another state has access to Ohio's disabled parking spots. However, the driver is subject to Ohio parking regulations while in Ohio. Conversely, Ohio placards and plates are recognized in every other state and are subject to each state's parking rules.
Applying for an Ohio Disability Placard
A disabled person who qualifies for disabled parking in Ohio can apply for either a disabled placard or a disabled plate. The application can be made in person at any office of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV.) It can also be sent by mail to: Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 16521, Columbus, OH 43216
An individual applying for a disability placard fills out a different application than someone applying for the disability license plate.To apply for a handicap parking placard in Ohio, an individual needs:
Application for Disability Placards (Form BMV 4826).
Prescription from a healthcare professional.
- Payment of a $5 fee per placard.
What Is a Prescription?
To get a disabled parking permit in Ohio, the individual must provide verification from a physician, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse or chiropractor registered in the state. This written document should include:
- Details about the person with the disability.
- Statement that the prescription form is for a handicap placard.
- Statement about how long the disability is expected to last.
- Name and signature of the health care provider, along with date of the signature.
Permanent parking permits expire on the date suggested by the health care provider, but a renewal application will be mailed 60 days before the permit expires.
Applying for an Ohio Disability Plate
An application for a license plate requires a slightly different procedure. It must include a completed Health Care Provider Certification of Eligibility for Disability License Plates (Form BMV 4834) and payment of fees.
The cost is always more for the plate than for the placard since the person also gets the actual license plate. Exact cost varies by county and license type. A regular license plate can be exchanged for a disability license plate in Ohio, rendering the regular license plate null and void.
In addition to the signed application and fees, all applicants for new or exchanged disability license plates must submit an Ohio Certificate of Title, Memorandum Title or valid registration in the name of the current owner. The current owner must be the person with the disability.
Costs for a Placard or Plate
The disability placard and the disability license plates in Ohio are not expensive. Placards cost $5 each and an individual can get more than one on a showing of need. This is the cost for both permanent and temporary placards. On the other hand, disability license plates cost more, with the exact amount varying by county and license type.
Parking With an Ohio Disability Permit
Anyone with a valid disability placard or license in Ohio is permitted to access and park in any parking space marked for the handicapped/disabled without any time limits. In many, but not all cities, a vehicle with a disabled placard or plate is also permitted to park in a regular parking spot without paying at the meter.
Note that even vehicles with disabled placards or plates do not have the right to park in:
- Fire lanes.
- Loading zones.
- Areas near parking spots that are marked with striped lines.
- Anywhere they will obstruct the entrance or exit to a property.
All state agencies, facilities and publicly owned parking garages are legally mandated to provide designated handicap parking spots. They must be identified with a sign with the international symbol of access on them and be elevated to 5 feet above the ground to be visible to drivers. The sign should state the fines for parking in a handicap spot without the proper permit.
Renew an Ohio Handicap Permit
If a handicapped parking permit expires, it must be renewed. Temporary placards last only for six months, while permanent disability placards may be valid for many years if that is what the doctor indicates. Disability license plates must be renewed when the vehicle registration expires.
If an individual wants to renew a temporary placard, they must reapply and submit a new application and certification. Anyone with a permanent placard receives a renewal application before the placard expires. For disability plate renewal, simply renew the vehicle registration.
Ohio Disability Parking Penalties
If someone parks in a designated handicap spot in Ohio, but the vehicle does not display a valid disabled placard or plate, they have committed a misdemeanor offense. However, criminal incarceration penalties do not apply. Rather, the vehicle will be towed, and the owner will be subject to fines of at least $250 up to $500.
Similar fines apply when someone parks a vehicle with a disabled placard or license in a handicapped space but neither the driver nor any passenger is in fact the person to whom the placard or place was issued.
Any parking facility obligated to have designating handicap parking spaces that does not offer them will first be issued a warning. Continued refusal to comply will result in a fine of $25 for each sign that is not up to code or missing.
Penalties for Fraudulently Obtaining a Placard
An Ohio health care provider who provides a person with a prescription to obtain a disability placard or special license plate when they do not actually meet the criteria is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree in Ohio. This is also true if a health care provider misrepresents the expected length of a disability to enable the person to have a parking permit that is valid for a longer period than necessary.
Both of these offenses are punishable by imprisonment of not more than six months, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, plus sanctions by the State Medical Board, the Chiropractic Examining Board or the Board of Nursing.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.