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The State of New York takes very seriously its commitment to ensure equal access for everyone to the state's goods and services by providing reserved parking spaces for disabled residents. Nancy Naples, Acting Commissioner of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, points out that providing reserved parking spaces for people with disabilities isn't simply a courtesy―it's a legal requirement.
She adds, "You can help support the law by parking in reserved spaces only if you have a permit or plates for people with disabilities, and only when the person who received the permit or plates is actually in the vehicle."
This also means that unless you have the appropriate permit or plates, avoid parking in the striped area next to a reserved space; this access aisle is for wheelchairs. Fines for illegally parking in these reserved spaces are $50 to $150, plus a mandatory $30 surcharge, and may be higher depending on the city. Police officers may also tow your vehicle.
If you qualify, you may get license plates from the DMV or a parking permit from your local government that allows you to park in spaces reserved for those with disabilities. Your healthcare provider must fill out Form MV-664.1 or provide a statement on letterhead describing the disability.
To qualify, you must have one or more of the following permanent conditions that affects your mobility:
- Use of portable oxygen.
- Legal blindness.
- Limited use, or no use, of one or both legs.
- Inability to walk 200 feet without stopping.
- A neuromuscular dysfunction that severely limits mobility.
- A Class III or IV cardiac condition (American Heart Association standards) .
- Severe limitation in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
- Restriction because of lung disease to such an extent that forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than 60mm/hg of room air at rest.
- Any other physical or mental impairment not previously listed that constitutes an equal degree of disability, and imposes unusual hardship in the use of public transportation and prevents the person from getting around without great difficulty.
If you have a temporary condition that renders you unable to walk without a cane, crutches, walker, or other assisting device, you may obtain a temporary parking permit that's valid for up to six months.
Disabled parking permits are issued locally, not by the DMV. Bring a completed Form MV-664.1 or doctor's statement about your disability to the agency in your area that issues parking permits―usually the office of your city clerk, town clerk, or village clerk. Permits are free, and you don't need to be a licensed driver or own a vehicle to have one. You may use a permit in any vehicle in which you are riding.
New York's permits are valid in all states and in most countries. The New York DMV recommends contacting the country you're visiting to confirm whether or not your permit will be honored.
Temporary permits are valid for up to six months.
The DMV issues special license plates for those with permanent disabilities for a passenger car, motorcycle, van, or pickup truck registered to the disabled person (each person with a disability may only receive one set of plates). If the vehicle can't be registered in the name of the disabled person, you should instead obtain a permit (see above).
Here's the process to obtain disabled license plates at your local DMV office:
- Bring a completed Form MV-664.1 or doctor's statement about your disability.
- Surrender the current vehicle plates, after removing frames and fasteners (otherwise the DMV will reject the plates).
- Bring your proof of identity.
- Pay an $18 fee.
Renewing your vehicle with disabled license plates is no different than renewing any other vehicle. There are no additional charges, and you do not have to show proof of your disability.
Statewide, shopping centers that have five or more retail stores must provide off-street parking spaces for people with disabilities and post signs to that effect. Local laws or ordinances may also specify on-street parking reserved for those with disabilities, but this will vary from city to city.
As new parking lots are built, they are usually required to provide reserved parking for those with disabilities. Contrary to popular myth, law enforcement officers are allowed to ticket illegal parkers in shopping centers and other privately owned parking lots.
Things are a little different in New York City, which differentiates between the state-issued parking permit and one issued specifically for New York City residents. Unless your permit is issued specifically for New York City, you may not use the on-street parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities. There are off-street spaces reserved in parking lots for shopping centers, offices, apartment buildings, and school campuses that may be used by anyone with any disabled license or permit, but the special license plates and permits are not valid for parking on any NYC street.
The DMV has put together a great resource for information about parking for the disabled that covers everything from how to prove a disability to how plates and permits are to be used, along with more information about obtaining plates
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