Qualifications for Disability License Plates and Placards

By: Nadia Ibanez June 5, 2012
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Whether you are the caregiver of a handicapped relative, spouse, or loved one, or need a disability placard or license plate for your own personal use, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the application process.

Disabled License Plates Vs. Placards

First, let's clear up the difference between plates and placards.

The DMV or state motor vehicle agency gives disabled license plates to disabled drivers for their personal use, while a disabled placard can be moved from one vehicle to another. Usually, a placard is the best option for a caregiver who transports the disabled person.

"What about tags?" you ask. Well, usually "tags" refers to license plates or the sticker that goes on license plates, but they can refer to placards, too. It depends on where you live. If your DMV refers to "disability tags," be sure to ask if that means license plates or placards.

Medical Requirements for Disability Plates and Placards

The medical requirements vary state by state. You will need to speak to your doctor or physician first to determine if you qualify for a disabled driver license plate or placard.

While qualifications vary by state, some of the medical conditions that could cause you to receive one of these special license plates are

  • The loss of use of your legs or hands.
  • The inability to walk two blocks without resting.
  • Heart, lung, or circulatory disease.
  • Strokes or epilepsy.
  • Mental health problems.
  • Age and other forms of serious illness.

Vehicle Registration With a Disability Plate or Placard

The car registration process for a disabled plate or placard is fairly simple and requires a few items.

You will want to look for an application for the plate or placard either online or in your nearest vehicle registration office. Have your doctor sign the document and write down your illness or disability.

Your state agency that handles car registration might require you to mail in or drop off the application. Be prepared to pay a nominal fee. Based on where you live, the plate or placard will be sent you in a few weeks.

Using Your Disability Plate or Placard

Limited mobility, whether temporary or permanent, is never easy to deal with alone. Luckily, states nationwide offer close parking options and wheelchair ramps so you can get where you need to go, with a little bit of extra help.

Once you receive the plate or placard, you will be able to park in any handicapped parking spot, curbside at an authorized handicap parking spot, and a variety of other specially-marked places. Because rules vary by each state, be well aware of where you can and cannot park so you don’t end up with a parking violation.

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