If you have a disability or use a narrow motorized wheelchair, you know the challenges of getting from one place to the next. Whether you need to get groceries, go to appointments or visit friends and family, finding a parking spot that is close to your destination can be challenging, especially living in a big city. What can you do? You should consider applying for an accessible parking permit.
Sometimes called a handicap parking placard, this tag hangs from the rearview mirror of your vehicle, showing that you have obtained permission from your state to park your car in spaces designated for individuals with disabilities. Whether you use a narrow motorized wheelchair such as the Stretto, a manual wheelchair, cane, crunches or walker, parking closer to your destination can help make your life much easier when living with a disability.
How to Obtain a Handicap Parking Placard
Every state has different rules on how to obtain an accessible parking permit. To apply for a permit, visit the website of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or visit in person.
Most states allow you to apply for a temporary permit for a specific number of years. A temporary parking permit is a good choice if you are recovering from an injury or surgery that is temporary. You can also obtain a permanent pass for a lifetime medical condition.
It’s important to know that you do not have to use a power wheelchair, manual wheelchair, cane, walker or other mobility device to qualify for a handicap parking permit. You don’t have to have permanent limited mobility either. Every application, however, asks you to list your disability and have a physician confirm with their signature.
It’s important to pay attention to the expiration date on your accessible parking permit. Once the permit expires, you cannot use it. You can apply for another permit.
Accessible Parking Etiquette
Once you receive your accessible parking permit, do not share it with an able-bodied person. This is unfair to people who legitimately need accessible parking spaces. You can be subjected to fines and possibly lose your permit. After you park, always display your permit. Do not drive with the permit hanging from your rearview mirror, as this can interfere with your visibility while driving. Typical accessible parking spaces are approximately five feet wide.
Larger Parking Spaces
There are accessible parking spaces that are slightly larger and designed for people with disabilities who use a power wheelchair ramp. The extra space allows individuals so they can get out of their vehicle by lowering the power wheelchair ramp. These spaces, called access space, are eight feet wide. If you do not use a narrow motorized wheelchair, please leave those reserved parking spots unoccupied for people who do.
Finally, if you park next to one of these spaces, do not park over the diagonal lines marked on the pavement. These lines are necessary access space and the individual with a power wheelchair may be unable to raise or lower their ramp if you park over the lines.