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Who Can Park in a Handicap Parking Spot? Know the Requirements!

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According to the CDC, 26% of adults have a disability in the US. Nearly 14% have a mobility disability, causing them significant difficulty walking or ascending stairs. So, accessible parking spots are very vital across the country. Accessible parking spaces close to building entrances are easily accessible to those who require them, saving them time and energy when they have a handicap parking permit. 


Misuse of accessible parking spaces is prohibited and can have a terrible impact on the lives of those drivers with disabilities and those who care for them. But commonly, most of us use these parking spots out of ignorance. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the laws and guidelines regarding accessible parking spots.  

So, who all can park in a handicapped parking spot? Is it illegal to park in an accessible parking spot without a permit? Know all about handicap parking permit and how it works! 

Who can park in a handicapped parking spot? 

Anyone may be eligible for a handicap parking permit depending on their health or disability. However, the person must at least be unable to walk more than 100 yards to meet the minimum standard. You will also be entitled if you have trouble getting in or out of a car or poor night vision. For instance, a driver having a handicap parking permit with the following conditions can use a handicap parking spot. 

  • Unable to walk without the help of mobility devices like a cane, crutch, wheelchair, or brace 
  • Severe lung or heart disease 
  • Vision impairments like blindness  
  • A mobility-limiting neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic disease 
  • One or both legs, or both hands, if lost or severely impaired 
  • Other conditions that affect one’s ability to utilize their legs or walk 

Invisible disabilities that qualify for a permit 

  • Brain injuries, tumors, or cancer treatment 
  • Recent operation  
  • Disorders like seizures 
  • Short-term memory loss 
  • Hidden prosthetic limbs 
  • Organ transplant 
  • Chronic pain  
  • Back injuries 
  • Fibromyalgia 

Is it illegal to park in a handicap spot? 

ada parking reserved
Image courtesy: Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Yes. Parking in a handicap spot without a permit is illegal if you don’t have a valid handicap parking permit., even if it’s for a short duration.  

You can locate accessible parking spots close to a building’s entrance. A vertically mounted blue and white sign and reflective traffic paint on the road’s surface imply accessible parking spots. The parking spot may also include a loading ramp or a curb cut for those who use a wheelchair or walker. 

How can you obtain a handicap parking permit? 

You should have a legal parking permit to park in a handicapped parking spot. Obtaining an accessible parking permit or parking placard is a lengthy process involving numerous phases. Some states may waive the need for a doctor’s certification if an impairment is apparent or evident.  

Steps to follow  

  • Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine your eligibility (DMV). 
  • Know about the options you have. 
  • The duration and conditions of permits differ based on state. For example, some states provide your license plates with permanent accessibility signs that you can use instead of a placard or accessibility sticker.  
  • Visit the DMV office to pick up an application for accessibility parking. Online registration is available in several states. 
  • For parking permits, each state has its paperwork and requirements. Usually, the state’s DMV is in charge. 
  • Fill up and sign the application form’s applicant section. 
  • The section of the form that verifies disability must be completed and signed by a healthcare professional. 
  • Apply online, via mail, or in person, paying the required fees. 
  • Disabled veterans with service-related disabilities may get a waive on the fees.  
  • The applicant must submit their permit application in the majority of states.  

Rules for using the parking permit 

  • The primary rule is that you cannot share the handicap parking permit.  
  • Another vital guideline is that your permit must be visible when using a handicapped parking spot.  
  • Finally, you must renew most parking permits every few years. Then, all you have to do to update your doctor’s letter to the DMV if you have a continuing disability is to see them. 

If you violate one of these guidelines, you risk paying penalties, revoking your permission, and other severe consequences. There are severe consequences for forging a parking permit in every state. You can potentially receive a jail term of several months. 

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How does a handicap parking permit work? 

These permits make traveling easier in public areas for persons with impairments or other health issues. The permits are usually a typical plastic tag you can hang from a rearview mirror or handicap license plates. Regardless of whether the owner uses a wheelchair, the permit will display the wheelchair sign because it is the International Symbol of Access. 

Handicap parking spots are normally situated close to a building’s entrance. A vertically mounted blue and white sign and reflective traffic paint on the road indicate the parking spot.  

What are the rules you must follow while using a handicapped parking spot? 

When parking in a handicapped parking spot, you should display your placard. Also, renew the parking permits regularly to keep them up to date.  

Where to park 

  • You can park in designated accessible parking spots marked by a wheelchair sign 
  • In green zones and metered parking areas 
  • Residential permit parking areas 
  • At parking spots with time limits  

Where not to park  

  • At no stopping or no parking zones 
  • In zones marked for commercial vehicles. Usually, white color marks these areas 
  • At red curbs or red zones 
  • Don’t park when commuter tow-away is in effect or street cleaning takes place 

Read our guide on airport parking for guests with disabilities!

What is the fine for parking in a handicap spot? 

fine for not parking without permit
Image courtesy: Image by Mark Miller from Pixabay

Parking in a handicap spot without a permit is illegal. Brace yourself to get a penalty ranging between $200 and $1,000 if you illegally park. In addition, they may tow your car or add points to your driver’s license. Some cities even suspend your license for around 30 days. Obtaining a fake parking permit may earn you a penalty of around $5,000 or jail time up to a year.  

How much does a handicap parking permit cost?  

The cost of parking permits and placards varies by state. The usual fees range from $0 to $20; however, prices can change. In addition, many states waive parking costs so drivers with disabilities can park for free, sometimes even in state-owned garages. Notably, many states demand waivers for free parking at metered spaces or parking garages.  

You can get these waivers through an application and registration process with the state or local DMV. These local and state-issued waivers only apply in specific locations. Private parking lots and garages may not offer free parking even with a waiver. The handicap parking spot, which the local disability commission or DMV provides, may be available by anybody with a permit.  

What are the types of parking permits or license plates?  

Accessibility permits, placards, and even permanent license plates come in various forms. Placards and permits may also come in various colors that indicate particular parking restrictions that permit holders may take advantage of. The most typical colors and their corresponding classifications and rights are as follows. 

Red: People with temporary disabilities and those with permits should wear red placards. Usually, a driver gets this for a brief period, usually six months, but they can extend if necessary. 

Light blue: Parking spots designated for ‘wheelchair users exclusively’ have light blue labels. The time between renewals varies by state. 

Dark blue: Placards in dark blue colors are for people with chronic disabilities. Even though these licenses signify a permanent impairment, they could nevertheless require renewal. The time between renewals varies by state. 

What should you do if you don’t find a handicapped parking spot?  

Suppose there are no accessible parking spots available. In that case, the primary thing to do is to check that all cars parked in accessible areas have the proper license plates or placards for accessibility. Next, you should report if a car uses a handicapped parking spot illegally. Then, give the store or facility a call. They might be able to find you alternative parking spots. 

How can I use handicap permits out of state?  

First of all, you cannot transfer your permit between states. You can’t transfer permits between cars. 

Does a handicap parking spot need a sign? 

Yes. According to ADA, there must be a handicap parking symbol for all handicap parking spots. The parking spot will be illegal without a sign. Because they have no method to verify it, several states may not recognize an out-of-state permit. 

Since permanently affixed to the car and connected to the registration, a disabled license plate is more likely to be honored outside the state. If you intend to travel state borders, consider familiarizing yourself with local regulations. Before leaving, call the DMV to find out what to expect. 

What makes a handicap parking spot legal? 

The positioning of parking spots in a parking lot must allow the most convenient access to the building’s entrance. The spot should be close to the entrance so that the person only needs to take the shortest route to the doors.  

Can you go to jail for parking in a handicap spot? 

Yes. Parking in a handicap spot without a permit is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. However, it is unlikely that you will get jail time unless you have committed this offense or one similar in the past. 

Is parking in a handicap spot a misdemeanor? 

Yes. It is a misdemeanor to park in a handicapped parking spot without a permit.  

Can disabled veterans park in handicap parking spots? 

DV license plates with a disability placard can park in handicap parking spots. Likewise, license plates having ISA signs can park at these spots.  

Can you park in a handicapped spot without a placard? 

No. It is illegal to park at an accessible parking spot without a placard. 

Can a pregnant woman park in a handicap spot? 

You can certainly park there if it is a spot marked by the retailer as ‘stork parking’ or ‘family parking.’ However, you should not use a parking spot that requires a disability parking permit if you don’t have one. 

handicap parking spot

Here’s more info on top-rated airport parkingthe best parking spots in your city, affordable auto insurance, easy auto refinance, and high-quality car washes near you.



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