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Applying for disability parking placards

Each state has its own laws and regulations governing parking tags. So if you would like to get a disability parking placard, you should start by contacting your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.


Who qualifies?


In general, the following people qualify for this type of placard allowing them to park in the parking spaces with the wheelchair symbol. Anyone who is:


  • Blind.
  • Does not have full use of an arm or both arms.
  • Not able to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
  • Not able to walk without the use of or assistance from: a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair or other assistive device.
  • Restricted by lung disease (usually specified levels measured by a spirometry test.)
  • Using portable oxygen.
  • Affected by a cardiac condition to the extent that the person’s functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to the standards set by the American Heart Association.
  • Severely limited in his or her ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition.


If your parent has a 100% service-connected disability as certified by the U.S. Veteran’s Administration, or any disabilities listed above, but they are service-connected rather than due to aging or injuries, then apply for a “Severely Disabled Veteran” placard, which provides the same benefits as the disability placard.


How to get a disability placard:


Many states now allow you to download copies of their application forms from a website, or you can go to a local Motor Vehicle Office of the state department of transportation. If you are a member of the AAA (American Automobile Association), they too, have copies of the forms and some can help you apply and process your state’s application. In most cases, the applicant as listed on the form must be the person with the disability – not the caregiver who will be doing all of the driving.  In other words, the placard is for the person, not the vehicle.


Your next step will be to take your state’s form to your parent’s physician. He or she must certify which conditions make your parent eligible for this parking privilege. The doctor must sign the form and enter his or her medical license number. In some states, a police officer may also certify that someone is eligible if the applicant “does not have the full use of a leg or both legs, or is blind,” as evidenced by use of a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane or other prescribed device. Once a physician or police officer certifies that your parent is eligible and signs the form, you may also need to get the form notarized. If your parent is applying for a “Severely Disabled Veteran” placard, then the Veterans Administration Regional Office must certify and sign the form.


Using the placard


According to most states, placards are to be used only when the vehicle in which it is displayed is parked and is being used for the transportation of the person with the disability. You don’t get to use it if your parent is not in the car. The placard qualifies you to park in areas designated for use by disabled persons only but not where parking is prohibited. 




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