Drivers with Disabilities in New Hampshire
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Drivers with disabilities may have individual needs regarding vehicle parking, vehicle modification, and driver education. Some disabilities are the result of accidents or chronic illness; some disabilities are present at birth and others appear later in life.
As a disabled driver you must determine what you need to operate a vehicle safely and as a disabled passenger you are entitled to free and conveniently located parking.
There are state and federal definitions on disability. New Hampshire's Governor's Commission on Disability oversees the walking disability placards and defines a walking disability as a disability which limits or impairs a person's ability to walk, as determined by a licensed physician or podiatrist, to such an extent that such person:
- Cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistance device.
- Is restricted by lung disease to such an extent that the person's forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
- Uses portable oxygen.
- Has a cardiac condition to the extent that the person's functional limitations are classified in severity as class three or class four according to the standards set by the American Heart Association.
- Is severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, orthopedic, or other medically disabling condition.
If you meet this definition for a walking disability, whether permanent or temporary, you can apply for a walking disability plate or placard.
As a disabled person, you may be more familiar with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Because the focus of this federal law is to establish equal opportunities for disabled Americans, the definition is a little different than the New Hampshire state definition:
Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- Has a record of such an impairment.
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
It is very common for disabled drivers and those with walking disabilities to qualify as disabled under both definitions. If you are applying for a driver's license, walking disability license plates, or walking disability placard, you should focus on the state of New Hampshire disability definitions.
If you qualify under the walking disability definition then you can apply for walking disability privileges. Complete the Application for Walking Disability Privileges, which is available online using the free Adobe Reader.
Part of the form must be completed by a licensed physician or podiatrist attesting to your walking disability. If you are a business transporting people who qualify under the walking disabilities definition then you, too, complete this form.
Plates are issued to people with permanent disabilities only. The fee for the plates is $8. The plates will have the international accessibility symbol and will be traceable back to you, the applicant. In fact, a police officer can require proof of identification when a vehicle is parked in a handicap parking spot; the fine for misuse of a walking disability license plate is $250.
Placards are issued to people with temporary and permanent disabilities. If your disability is temporary, for example the result of an accident or surgical procedure, then your placard will be colored red with a six-month expiration. The placard for permanent disabilities is colored blue and expires every five years.
All applications must be mailed to the Division of Motor Vehicles Headquarters, specifically the Walking Disability Desk, as instructed on the application. If you are in a hurry you can always visit the DMV Headquarters in person―take your application and $8 fee for plates to:
- Walking Disability Desk
- Department of Safety
- Division of Motor Vehicles
- Stephen E. Merrill Building
- 23 Hazen Drive
- Concord, NH 03305
New Hampshire's temporary (hanging) placards, red with white lettering, are recognized in every state. If you're traveling out of state for an extended period of time, be aware that these placards are good for six months only. To apply, submit a completed Application for Walking Disability Privileges.
If you're visiting New Hampshire from another state, your disability license plates or placards from that state will be honored here. To verify whether your New Hampshire disability plates will be honored in another state, refer to our Drivers with Disabilities section for the state you will be visiting.
Applying for a Drivers License can be challenging when you are disabled. Fortunately, in New Hampshire there are driver evaluation services to help you develop adaptive devices, vehicle modifications, and customized driver training programs.
Driver evaluation and training is offered to anyone of driving age―older than 15 years and six months old. You can start with the Commercial Driver Education List and ask about special training for disabled drivers.
For example, a well-recognized driver evaluation program is Crotched Mountain Driver Evaluation and Training. Other driver evaluation resources can be found by contacting the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists. If you are under 18 and you enroll in a specialized training program you can write the Commissioner of Safety and request a waiver on the traditional licensing education requirements for teens.
Part of the driver evaluation and training program will include appropriate vehicle modifications. For example, if your right foot has been amputated, you can install a left foot gas pedal in your vehicle. Drivers who are recovered from a stroke sometimes install a spinner knob on the steering wheel to allow controlled steering with just one hand. Resources to check with for vehicle modifications include the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists where you will be referred to companies like Ride-Away Handicap Equipment Corp for New Hampshire located providers.
When you apply for your driver's license at any DMV office or substation, your modified vehicle must be with you. Like any other first-time driver applicant, you will complete the Application for a Driver's License, pay the fee, take the vision test, written knowledge test, and road skills test. If you are renewing, you will take the vision test and maybe the road skills test if your license restrictions have changed and need to be assessed.
After passing all the exams, your driver's license will include a designation for walking disability if you have applied for that parking privilege. The driver's license will also include restrictions for any mechanical aids, vehicle modifications, or automatic transmission requirements used during your road skills test. Violating a restriction by driving a vehicle unequipped for your disability is against the law and could earn you demerit points against your license.
By accessing the available resources, disabled drivers can overcome individual challenges of earning a New Hampshire driver's license. Applying for the walking disability placard can really help when trying to find appropriate parking. You will agree, the convenience of driving to work, school, and social outings is very rewarding.
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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