Typically, a handicap placard is a blue sign that hangs on the car’s rearview mirror. It designates that the vehicle’s driver or passenger has a disability that limits her mobility. While the exact benefits of a handicap placard vary from state to state, it generally allows the driver of the vehicle to park in more convenient areas and, in some situations, to not pay for parking. For example, instead of parking in a space that’s far from the mall’s entrance, a person with a handicap placard can park in one of the designated parking spaces that’s closer to the door.
The Handicap Placard
Throughout the country, a handicap placard is known by multiple names. In California, it’s more formally known as a Disabled Person parking placard. In Michigan, it’s known as a permanent disability parking placard. In some states, the handicap placard is obtained through the state’s government agency that handles vehicle registration and driver’s licenses, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles in California and New York and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Florida.
In other states, such as Michigan, it may be the state’s Secretary of State offices or other government agency that handles the application, renewal and replacement of handicap placards. Some states offer both permanent and temporary handicap placards to cover both types of disabilities.
Read More: Proper Way to Display Handicap Parking Placard
Who Can Get One?
In most cases, the person applying for a handicap placard must submit an application and provide medical certification of a disability that significantly limits the person’s ability to move, such as blindness or paralysis. Usually, the person with the disability parking placard must either be the driver or passenger of the car to park in a disability parking space. This means that the driver herself may be the one who’s handicapped, or she may be the driver of a handicapped person, such as her child or other family member.
Parking in Handicapped Parking Spaces
Handicapped parking spaces are usually those that are closest to the building’s entrance and/or exit doors. Parking spaces reserved for those with a handicap parking placard are designated with the International Symbol of Access, which is a wheelchair logo. At the top of the parking space, a blue sign with a white wheelchair may appear, under the words “Parking Only.” Sometimes, the white wheelchair with a blue background may be painted on the pavement of the parking space itself. Often, both the sign and painted logo appear.
Parking in Restricted Areas
In some states, a handicap placard also allows the person to park next to certain colored street curbs. For example, in California, those with a Disabled Person parking placard can park next to a blue or green curb without having to obey the parking time limit. In California, having a handicap placard also allows the driver to park in an area in which a resident or merchant permit for parking is required.
Parking for Free
In some states, another benefit of a handicap placard is the ability to park for free. In California, those with a Disabled Person parking placard can park in an on-street metered parking space without having to pay.
In Michigan, those with a permanent disability parking placard can park for free in public metered spaces only if the placard has a yellow free-parking sticker. To qualify for a yellow free-parking sticker, the person must have a medical professional certify on their placard application that his disability renders him unable to pay for parking in common situations, such as inserting coins in a parking meter, reaching above his head to a height of 42 inches from the ground, approaching a meter in a wheelchair, and walking more than 20 feet.
In Florida, those with a handicap placard, formally called a disabled person parking permit, can park for free at a metered space for a maximum of four hours.
Karen graduated from Southwestern Law School in 2003 with a Juris Doctor degree. She has worked for several law firms, providing legal services in various fields including immigration, housing, bankruptcy and family law.