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    Like other states, Maryland provides placards and plates emblazoned with the wheelchair symbol for those needing parking perks (including parking at many meters at no charge).

    There are essentially 10 circumstances under Maryland law that make a person eligible to apply for a disability placard or plate. Most of these are uniform across all states and include being wheelchair-bound or unable to take a stroll of more than 200 feet without assistive devices or a pause for a breather.

    If you fall into one of the listed categories you will just need a licensed physician to verify and sign off on the condition as a prerequisite for applying. In some cases a signature from a chiropractor and/or ophthalmologist will suffice.

    Disabled placards are offered to qualifying individuals for free.

    Steps to Apply

    Fill out an Application for Maryland Parking Placards/License Plates for Individuals with a Disability (Form VR-210). This is the document where you have a physician certify that you are indeed disabled and in need of parking benefits.

    Once the application is ready to submit, there are a couple of ways to wrap up the process and get your placards and/or plates:

    In Person

    If applying in person, head into a full-service MVA office. Some counties do not have MVA offices; others only have offices that provide limited services. So make sure you arrive at an appropriate facility to avoid any unnecessary frustration.

    By Mail

    Applying via mail is also an option. Simply complete the application, making sure that the disability certification area has been before a doctor, and return it to:

    MVA, Disability Unit
    Room 202
    6601 Ritchie Highway
    Glen Burnie, MD 21062

    The placards and/or plate will be mailed to you. A placard is valid for 4 years. Temporary placards can be valid up to 6 months only.

    When your placard is coming up for renewal you will get a renewal notice in the mail. Verify that all the information is current, date and sign the form and mail it back in to the address listed above.

    Temporary Placards

    If you find yourself rehabbing a broken leg or bum knee after a slip hiking one of Maryland's scenic trails, you can apply for a temporary placard. That way when your arms feel like rubber and are in serious pain from hobbling on crutches, you will not have to traverse a parking lot the size of Rhode Island.

    The application process is similar to obtaining a regular disability placard (see "Steps to Apply" above). The one requirement is that your temporary ailment causes you 3 weeks or more of distress. Other than that, it is just a matter of completing the form and having a doctor state that you are undeniably in no shape to hike great distances due to the impermanent malady. The placards, which are red rather than the regular blue version, are issued for 6 months.

    Stolen or Lost Placards

    Those empty spaces just outside the doorway painted with the universal wheelchair symbol are just too much for some people. They tire of the long hauls across ocean-sized parking lots with 500 bags of Christmas packages. They see your car, window slightly ajar, legally parked in one of those ultra-convenient spots. Your placard is hanging properly from the rearview mirror. Next thing you know, they drop all the packages and grab the placard. No more will they have to park 20 miles from a door.

    There are hefty consequences for using a placard illegally. Some people think the penalties should be tougher, but for now it will set you back up to $500 for the misuse; and that does not count the penalties for swiping it in the first place. That is a whole other set of offenses that might put you in jail just because you could not walk a spell.

    On the other hand, if you are the victim of a stolen placard the first thing you need to do is contact the police. Once you are issued a report number then you can just go through the normal application process to get a replacement, except you will note on the form the case number and the jurisdiction.

    A replacement can be picked up in person or you can send in the documents to the above address and receive a new one via mail.

    Placard Use When Out of State

    If you are planning a vacation in another state, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has you covered. As long as the placard is current and issued in your name, you can use it just about wherever you go―including Washington, D.C.

    However, the law in most states allowing resident drivers bearing a valid placard to park for free at parking meters might not apply to visiting drivers with out-of-state placards. Thus, when you park at a meter in another jurisdiction, you might want to drop a few coins in the meter just to be safe.

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