Drivers with Disabilities in California
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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.
Disabled license plates are available only to those with permanent disabilities. There is no fee for the plates, other than your normal annual vehicle registration fee.
A temporary disabled parking placard is good for six months. A permanent disabled parking placard is valid for two 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.
- Print a copy of the Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates form.
- Have your doctor sign the disability certification.
- Mail the completed application to the address indicated. For a temporary placard, include a $6 fee. Permanent placards and license plates are free.
- It takes about three weeks to get your placard or plates.
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 change of address notification to the DMV within 10 days.
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.
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 be fined $250 to $3,500, and jailed for six months.
If your disabled placard is lost or destroyed, you may obtain a substitute placard. You'll need to:
- Complete an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, and Documents form.
- Surrender the placard if it has been mutilated.
- Enclose a $6 replacement fee if you are replacing a temporary placard (permanent placards are free to replace).
Mail the completed application, along with any fees and the destroyed placard (if applicable), to the address on your form. If there's no address listed, mail to:
- DMV Placard
- P.O. Box 942869
- Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
Note: According to the CA DMV, it may take as long as two months for your placard to arrive.
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.
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. To apply:
- Complete an Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates.
- Have your physician sign the Doctor's Certification of Disability section of the application.
- Send the proper fee.
- Mail all to the address on the form. You should receive your temporary placard in approximately two weeks.
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. If you are a permanent placard owner, there is no charge. A traveling placard is good for 30 days.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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