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  • Drivers with Disabilities in North Carolina

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    Differently-abled people may drive motor vehicles in North Carolina if their disabilities do not interfere with their abilities to drive safely. With exceptions, a disabled person who passes the driver's license exam and road tests is permitted to drive in North Carolina.

    If your disability does not prevent you from operating a motor vehicle safely, you might be eligible for a restricted driver's license. With a restricted license, you must follow the limits placed on your license. For example, you might be allowed to operate a vehicle that has been modified with special control devices.

    Special Needs for Parking

    Because of their special needs, there are laws in place that make it easy for handicapped people to park close to buildings and wheelchair ramps, or have more access to get into and out of specially-designed vans. People who transport disabled people can also park in these spots.

    In North Carolina, if you meet certain requirements you may apply for handicapped license plates or dashboard placards. These allow you to park in designated "handicapped only" parking spaces. Applying for special plates or placards is as easy as filling out a form and paying a fee.

    Qualifying Disabilities

    When it comes to eligibility for disabled placards and license plates, "disabled" is defined as a person who is experiencing at least one of the following conditions:

    • Unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
    • Requires a brace, cane, crutch, another person, wheelchair, prosthetic device, or other assistance to walk
    • Has restrictions from lung disease
    • Requires portable oxygen
    • Has a debilitating cardiac condition
    • Unable to walk due to arthritis or a neurological or orthopedic condition
    • Is totally or legally blind

    Temporary Handicap Placards

    For a temporary handicap placard valid for up to 6 months, you simply fill out the Application for Disability Parking Placard Form (Form MVR-37A), and have your physician sign it. He or she must confirm the length of your disability. There is a $5 fee for each placard, with a limit of 2 placards per person.

    Permanent Handicapped Placards for the Disabled

    For a permanent handicap placard, simply complete the Application for Disability Parking Placard Form (Form MVR-37A) and have it signed by your physician, certifying that you are eligible. There is a $5 fee for each placard, and you may get 2 placards per person. You can renew them by having your physician sign another application.

    Extra Parking Privileges

    With a disabled placard, you may park for an unlimited amount of time in a space that normally has a time limit on it. For example, by displaying your placard, you may park in a two-hour parking space for more than two hours. This does not apply to zones that are reserved for certain types of vehicles, such as police cars or city buses.

    Out-of-State Privileges

    According to North Carolina General Statutes, if you hold a handicap placard from another state, North Carolina will recognize it when you visit this state. You will have the same privileges as if the placard had been issued here.

    To find out whether another state will honor disability license plates or placards issued in North Carolina, review our Drivers with Disabilities section for the state you plan to visit.

    Personalized Vehicle Plates

    Would you like to have personalized license plates with the International Symbol of Access (wheelchair) on them? If you are handicapped or visually impaired, you are eligible to receive this license plate at the regular license plate fee. You must complete the Application for Disability Parking Placard Form (Form MVR-37A).

    Again, it requires your physician's signature, or it can be signed by an authorized representative of the state's Division of Services for the Blind. The plate is renewed by sticker, like other types of license plates. However, you must have a physician certify it again every five years in order to continue using it.

    Please refer to the DMV's information page for more details about placards.

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