It can be difficult for people with certain disabilities to travel very far on foot. That means that if they have to park some distance from shopping, the library or even medical centers, they might not be able to use those facilities. That is why most states dedicate certain parking slots for the exclusive use of people with disabilities.
This is the case in the state of Georgia, where the law contains several provisions that allow people with disabilities to park their vehicles close to their destinations. This program is managed by the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) and is intended to make it easier for individuals who are experiencing a temporary or permanent disability to find parking in the state.
Georgia Disability Parking Laws
Like many states, Georgia law requires that certain parking spaces be designated as disability spaces in both old and new construction. The use of these parking slots is limited to vehicles whose drivers or passengers have a temporary or permanent disability. Parking in these slots is free for disabled persons. In some states, a disabled permit also allows free parking at any metered, on-street parking space. Note, however, that Georgia is not one of them.
Displaying a Permit or License
Individuals with qualifying disabilities are permitted to use these slots. They must identify their eligibility by obtaining one of the types of permits or licenses issued by the Georgia Department of Revenue:
- Temporary disability placard.
- Permanent disability placard.
- Special permanent placard.
- Disabled person's license plate.
- Disabled veteran license plate.
A special permanent parking permit is issued for vehicles equipped with special controls for a disabled driver with upper extremity impairments.
A disability placard, whether temporary, permanent or special permanent, must be displayed on the driver side of the dashboard or hung from the rearview mirror. A disability license plate must be affixed to the exterior of the vehicle. Both the placard and the license plate can be obtained by submitting an application to the state Department of Revenue. Applicants must satisfy several eligibility criteria and requirements depending on whether the disability is permanent or temporary.
Permanent and Temporary Disability Placards
There are physical differences between a temporarily disabled person's parking placard and a permanently disabled person’s parking placard; the permanent placard is blue, and the temporary one is red. Both are available free of charge from the DOT and can be used in any vehicle that the disabled person operates. They can also be used in any vehicle in which the disabled person is a passenger. When a vehicle is used by an institution for transporting persons with disabilities, the institution can also apply for permanent placards or license plates.
Qualifying as Permanently Disabled
Georgia law specifies who qualifies for disabled parking, both permanent and temporary. A Georgia resident must be disabled in one or more of the following ways to qualify for a permanent disability placard or license plate. The person:
- Is unable to walk 200 feet or more without needing to rest.
Has disabilities that are expected to incapacitate them for more than 180 days.
Is severely limited in their ability to walk due to an orthopedic, neurological or arthritic condition.
Is severely limited in their ability to walk due to pregnancy complications.
Must use a portable oxygen tank.
- Requires a brace, crutch, prosthetic device, a wheelchair or other type of assistive device, or the assistance of another person in order to walk.
- Suffers from a lung disease so debilitating that their forced respiratory volume for one second is less than one liter. Alternatively, their arterial oxygen tension at rest is less than 60 millimeters of mercury of room air.
- Has a type of heart condition that is designated as Class III or Class IV by the American Heart Association.
- Has impaired hearing.
- Has visual acuity that does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye without corrective lenses.
- Has visual acuity that exceeds 20/200 in the better eye without corrective lenses, but the widest field of vision diameter subtends no more than twenty degrees.
Qualifying as Temporarily Disabled
A temporarily disabled person does not need to meet the disability criteria that those seeking permanent disability status must meet. Rather, a temporarily disabled person for Georgia DOT purposes is usually a person with temporary limitations from surgery or an accident.
Temporarily disabled persons become eligible for a disabled parking permit/placard if they submit the correct form signed by a physician that testifies to their disability – the Form MV-9D Disabled Person’s Parking Affidavit. The form must be signed by a licensed doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine, a podiatrist, an optometrist or a licensed chiropractor.
You do not have to own a vehicle to obtain a disabled persons parking permit/placard in Georgia.
Validity of Disability Permit/Plate
It is a traffic offense for any vehicle to stop, stand or park in a space designated for a person with a disability unless they have a valid unexpired handicap parking permit or plate. A temporary permit is valid for 180 days, and a permanent or special parking permit remains valid for four years. After this time, they must be renewed. All license plates that identify a vehicle as one used by a disabled person are also valid for four years.
Out-of-state Disabled Identification
What happens if a disabled person from another state visits Georgia in their vehicle? A person whose vehicle bears a disabled placard, permit or license from any other state is free to use disabled parking spots in Georgia. The state recognizes and accepts valid disabled parking permits from all other states. Likewise, every other state recognizes and accepts the disabled placards and plates issued in Georgia.
Penalties for Parking in Disabled Spot
The Georgia Motor Vehicles Code Section 40-6-226 makes it illegal for a vehicle that does not display a current disability parking permit or up-to-date disability license plate to park in one of the designated disability spaces in Georgia. There are exceptions for vehicles dropping off disabled persons, and for ambulances. Otherwise, the owner of the vehicle is subject to ticketing and fines.
The same statute addresses penalties for violation of the law; it provides for a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500 for this offense. In addition, if the parking place for persons with disabilities is marked by a sign bearing the words "Tow-Away Zone," the vehicle may be towed away at the owner's expense by a law enforcement agency or the official security agency of a private property.
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.