How to Apply for an Accessible Parking Permit

When you live with a disability that makes walking long distances challenging, consider applying for an accessible parking permit. This tag hangs from your rearview mirror, demonstrating that you are someone who has obtained state permission to park your vehicle in spaces designated for individuals with disabilities. Whether you use a motorized wheelchair, manual wheelchair, crunches, cane, walker or use no mobility aid at all, parking closer to restaurants and stores can help make things easier and more enjoyable when living with a disability.

How to Obtain a Permit for Accessible Parking

When you start the process of finding out how to apply for an accessible parking permit, you might search using the terms handicap parking. The appropriate terminology is accessible parking and every state has its own rules on how to receive this special permit. To apply for a permit, go to the website of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for your specific state or visit it in person.

A majority of states allow you to apply for a temporary permit for a specified number of years or a permanent pass for a medical condition you will have for a lifetime. A temporary accessible parking pass is a good option when you are recovering from a temporary injury or surgery.

You do need to use a manual wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, cane, walker or other mobility device to receive a permit. You don’t have to have permanent limited mobility either. Regardless of the state, every application will ask to list your disability and have a physician confirm via their signature.

One last note about the process for accessible parking. Know the expiration date on your accessible parking permit. Once the permit is expired, you cannot use it, however, you can apply for another permit.

Proper Etiquette for Accessible Parking Spots

Once you receive your accessible parking permit, do not share it with a non-disabled friend or family member. This is unfair to people who legitimately need the accessible parking space. You could be subjected to fines and possibly loss your accessible parking permit. Always display your permit after you have parked. Do not drive with the permit hanging from your rearview mirror, as this interferes with your visibility while driving.

There are larger accessible parking lots that are slightly larger. These are designed for individuals with disabilities who use a ramp. The extra space is needed so they can get out of their vehicle by lowering the wheelchair ramp. If you do not use a wheelchair, please leave those reserved parking spots unoccupied for people who do use manual or power wheelchairs.

Accessible parking for people who use power wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs are eight feet wide, while typical accessible spots are only five feet wide. This extra space in a wheelchair-accessible handicap parking spot is referred to as access space. If another person parks his or her car the tiniest bit over the lines of the accessible space, the individual with the wheelchair may not be able to get back into his or her car when they return, as they are unable to lower the ramp.