Businesses in all states have handicapped, or accessible, parking spaces. Each, including the state of Maryland, defines the parking space location and size. Placards and license plate tags are available for individuals that meet the state's requirements for qualifying disabilities.
Accessible Parking Spaces in Maryland
In Maryland, accessible parking spaces must be located in the shortest route from an accessible entrance. Signs for these parking spots must be mounted 7 feet high on a pole or 6-to-10 feet high on the wall of a building. The signs must be visible and not covered by snow or other obstructions.
The striped area next to and around an accessible space allows for the loading or unloading of passengers in wheelchairs. These adjacent aisles must be 60 to 96 inches wide for van space. There can be no parking in these spaces.
What Disabilities Qualify in Maryland?
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation and Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), these disabilities are qualifying factors to park in an accessible parking space under state law:
- Permanent disability impacting mobility, including conditions that risk injury to a person if they did not have a placard or tags.
- Not being able to walk more than 200 feet without rest.
- Not being able to walk without using an assistance device.
- Needing a wheelchair.
- Loss of an appendage.
- Lung disease or other respiratory issues.
- Cardiovascular disease rated as Class III or Class IV by the American Heart Association.
- Permanent impairment in both eyes with 20/200 or less vision in the better eye with glasses, or having a peripheral vision defect, the widest diameter of the visual field subtends no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.
This list of disabilities is not all-inclusive. Individuals can have other disabilities that are not mentioned. If they do, they can speak to an MVA employee or talk to their doctor to make sure they meet the eligibility requirements for medical certification.
Parking Permits for Temporary Disabilities
People who suffer a temporary disability, such as a broken bone, can apply for a temporary placard or tags if their injury impacts mobility for at least three weeks. When the placard or tags are no longer needed, the individual must immediately return them to the MVA.
How to Use Disability Tags or Placards
After the MVA gives the individual their parking placard, it must be adequately displayed in their vehicle. Tags are displayed on the vehicle's license plates. Placards must hang on the rearview mirror. If there is no mirror, or it is not visible from the car's rear, they can place it on the driver's side dashboard.
The side showing its expiration date must be displayed. When driving, individuals must remove the placard.
The disabled individual must be in the vehicle when parking in a handicapped space. Individuals must always carry their MVA Disability Parking Certification card when using a placard or tags, as law enforcement can request to see it any time.
Free Parking in Metered Spaces
A vehicle with a disability placard or tags can park without paying in a metered space for double the parking meter's time limit. For example, if the meter is for one-hour parking, they can park for free for two hours. The maximum time limit is four hours.
The penalty for illegally parking in an accessible parking space can be $250 to over $500, depending on the municipality or county.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.