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  • Drivers with Disabilities in California

    What Qualifies as a Disability With the CA DMV

    A disabled parking placard or license plate issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles will make your life easier if you need one.

    If you have limited mobility or one of the following conditions, as diagnosed by your doctor:

    • Heart or circulatory disease
    • Lung disease
    • A diagnosed disease or disorder that significantly limits the use of lower extremities
    • Specific, documented visual problems, including low vision, partial-sightedness, or blindness
    • The loss, or loss of the use, of one or both lower extremities or both hands

    In some cases, including those related to lack of mobility in the hands, arms, or lower extremities, a licensed chiropractor disability can certify a disability.

    The blindness of any disabled parking applicant must be certified by a licensed physician or surgeon (eye specialist) or by a licensed optometrist.

    Temporary or Permanent Handicap Plates & Placards

    Disabled license plates are available only to those with permanent disabilities. You will only need to pay your normal annual vehicle registration fee.

    A temporary disabled parking placard is good for 6 months. A permanent disabled parking placard is valid for 2 years and expires on June 30 of odd-numbered years. Either way, the plastic placard is displayed inside the vehicle in which the disabled person is riding or driving.

    Both permanent and temporary disabled parking placards require a doctor's certification unless:

    • You have lost a lower extremity or both hands, and you go in person to your local DMV office to obtain your placard.
    • You already have California disabled person (DP) or disabled veteran (DV) license plates assigned to you.

    How to Apply for a CA Disabled Placard or License Plate

    Plate & Placard Renewals in California

    Permanently disabled placards automatically renew. When your placard is ready to expire, the DMV will mail a new placard to the address on file. If you change your address, be sure to send a Notice of Change of Address (Form DMV 14) to the DMV or change your address online (if you are eligible).

    Where to Park with CA Handicap Plates & Placards

    With your disabled placard (temporary or permanent) or your permanent disabled license plates, you may park :

    • In any parking space with the International Symbol of Access. (wheelchair symbol)
    • Next to a blue curb authorized for handicap parking.
    • Next to a green curb (green curbs indicate limited-time parking) for as long as you like.
    • In a metered parking space on the street at no charge.
    • In an area that indicates it requires a resident or merchant permit.
    • Check public arenas, like sports stadiums, to see if they offer free disabled parking. Many do.

    Do not park in the areas marked with white hatch marks (near the disabled parking spots), any red (no stopping), yellow (commercial vehicles only), or white (passenger loading and unloading only) curbs.

    Disabled Placard Abuse

    Remember, you are the only person authorized to use your disabled placard. You must be either the driver or the passenger in a vehicle for the placard to be valid.

    If you abuse your parking placard or let someone else do so, the placard is likely to be canceled and revoked. Further, you could also be fined and even receive time in jail.

    Replacing a Lost or Destroyed Placard in CA

    If your disabled placard is lost or destroyed, you may obtain a substitute placard. You'll need to:

    Mail the completed application, along with any fees and the destroyed placard (if applicable), to:

    DMV Placard
    P.O. Box 942869
    Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

    Note: According to the CA DMV, it may take as long as 4 weeks for your placard to arrive.

    More Information for Disabled Drivers in California

    The DMV tailors some of its services toward drivers with disabilities, including alternative methods for taking the written driver's license exam, TTY phone numbers, special counters for the disabled, and special assistance at the DMV office.

    If your wheelchair lift obstructs your license plate, you may apply for a window decal from the DMV that clearly displays your license number in your vehicle's rear window.

    According to a CA DMV representative, it is possible to get both a disabled license plate and a movable placard for those times when the qualified disabled person is being driven by another driver.

    To find out more about registering your car with special disabled person license plates, visit the DMV's page dedicated to explaining California's disabled license plates and placards program.

    Short-Term Placards for Visitors

    If you're visiting California and you require a disabled license placard, you must apply for a Temporary Parking Placard for Nonresidents. The temporary placard is good for up to 90 days or until the date indicated by your physician.

    Traveling Out of State

    If you have a parking placard or license plate issued by the state of California, and you plan to travel out of state, you will want to obtain a Travel Parking Placard for California Residents. Follow the same steps as above and don't forget to include the appropriate fee. A traveling placard is good for 30 days.

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