If you have a disability that makes walking long distances difficult or impossible, you might consider applying for an accessible parking permit. This is a tag that you hang from your rearview mirror identifying you as someone who has obtained the necessary permission from the state to park in spaces designated for individuals with disabilities. Whether you use a manual wheelchair, power wheelchair, a walker, crutches, or no mobility aid, the ability to park closer to stores, restaurants, and other public places can help make things easier for you when living with a disability.
How to Obtain an Accessible Parking Permit
When you originally begin the process of learning how to apply for accessible parking, you might search using the terms accessible parking. The appropriate terminology is accessible parking and each state has its own regulations on what people must do to receive this special permit for their vehicle. The first thing you should do is go to the website of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for your state or visit it in person and apply for a permit.
You do not necessarily need to use an electric wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, or have permanent limited mobility to apply for and receive a parking permit. The application for each state will ask you to list your disability and have your doctor confirm it with his or her signature.
Most states give you the option to apply for a temporary pass for a specific number of years or a permanent pass for a condition you know you will have for the rest of your life. A temporary parking pass can be ideal when you are using a manual wheelchair or power wheelchair while recovering from surgery or injury.
Etiquette All Drivers Should Follow Regarding Accessible Parking Spots
Once you obtain your special parking pass, you should not share it with a non-disabled friend or family member even one time. Not only is this unfair to people who legitimately need the space, it could subject both of you to fines and you may even lose the privilege of parking closer wherever you go. While you should always display your pass after you or your driver have parked, be sure not to drive with the tag hanging from your rearview mirror as this can obstruct your vision while driving.
If you do not use a manual wheelchair or power wheelchair, be sure to leave these reserved parking spots available for people who do. These spots are much larger than the traditional space reserved for accessible parking spots. This is necessary to give the person in the electric wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, or manual wheelchair room to get out the vehicle and lower the wheelchair ramp.
Accessible parking for wheelchair users are eight feet wide, while typical spots are only five feet wide. The extra space in a wheelchair-accessible accessible parking spot is called access space. If someone parks his or her car even slightly over the lines of the space, the person in the manual wheelchair or power wheelchair may not be able to get back into his or her car when they return to their parking space. That is because the other car has made it impossible by taking up the space necessary for power wheelchair users to get back into their car via a wheelchair ramp.
Finally, be sure to pay attention to expiration dates on your accessible parking permit. Although you cannot use the pass after that date, you can apply for another one or consider applying for a permanent pass.