There seem to be so many handicapped parking spaces, and so many are empty… I just need one spot for a few minutes. It’s so easy…. so why not? Because it’s against the law that’s why not!
Enacted in 1990 and amended in 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established the rights of qualifying individuals with disabilities to have access to public parking spaces and building entrances. These spaces are required by law and they are indicated with signs specifying that they are designated for handicapped use ONLY!
Many people believe that because they have a handicap parking placard hanging from their mirror, they can park in a handicapped parking spot. However, it is a violation of state law to use the disabled parking spot when the disabled person is not in the vehicle. If people misuse the disabled parking space they can be fined up to $1250 and/or up to 50 hours of community service. A disabled parking space can only be used by a person who is driving and is disabled, or someone who is driving the person with the disability.
What Constitutes a Disability?
Eligibility for a placard or license plate, is based on a medical condition that meets the legal definition of disability. The following conditions define disability:
Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, and other qualifying visual impairment diagnosis.
Mobility problems which significantly impair the person’s ability to move around, such a paralysis, lung disease, cardiac deficiency, wheelchair confinement, arthritis, foot disorder, or other medical condition where the person requires an assisstive device.
A person does not have to be in a wheelchair to be considered handicapped.
Conditions which cause debilitating symptoms that are not so apparent from the outside, also know as invisible disabilities can involve certain lung and cardiac conditions which limit mobility, due to extreme shortness of breath. Other conditions may involve brain injuries, spastic activity, shaking or tremors and certain cancers.
How to Obtain a Disability Placard
There are two types of placards, a permanent (blue) placard, or temporary (red with a six-month limit) placard. You will have to apply for a placard or plate at the local county tax assessor/collector’s office. A doctor or healthcare provider will need to complete the Disability Statement section of the application. Then submit the completed application and payment to your county tax office.
Want to find out more?
Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.