Is It Illegal to Drive With a Handicap Parking Permit on Your Rear-View Mirror?

You or a family member might need to use a handicap parking permit. Do you know how to display an accessible parking tag while driving? Here’s a look at the laws regarding parking permits for people with disabilities.  

How and when to use a handicap parking permit

Handicap parking permit
Accessible parking spaces | Kurt Wittman/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you have a chronic illness that makes walking painful or difficult, or if you have limited mobility, you can ask your doctor about getting an accessible parking permit. It can help save time, energy, frustration, and safety by allowing you to park near the entrance of businesses and other establishments. 

Each state has its own forms and criteria for what qualifies you for an accessible parking permit. You will need to go through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to know the exact process you need to follow. Obtain the proper forms to fill out — your DMV will need verification from your doctor that you need the permit. 

Again, each state is different, but a few of the most common reasons for an accessible parking permit include: 

  • Lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Impaired mobility such as the need for a wheelchair, cane, walker, or brace
  • A condition that limits the use of your legs
  • Vision issues such as low vision or partial sightedness
  • Loss of one or both legs, loss of both hands, or limited use of these parts

Once your doctor verifies you would benefit from an accessible parking permit, send your application by mail or deliver it in person. There might be a fee. 

You can apply for a permanent or temporary permit. The latter is often valid for up to six months for a temporary disability such as after surgery, WebMD reports.

It might be illegal to hang certain things from your rear-view mirror 

Once you have your accessible parking permit, it might seem easier to let the hang tag stay on your rear-view mirror at all times, even while driving. But be careful: Keeping your permit on the rear-view mirror might be illegal. 

According to Jerry Insurance, it’s illegal to hang objects from your vehicle’s rear-view mirror in some states. Even in states where it’s legal, you can still get a ticket if the police find what’s hanging from your rear-view mirror obstructive. 

Things you might not be able to hang from your rear-view mirror include parking permits, large air fresheners, graduation tassels, fuzzy dice, and dreamcatchers. 

The key is to check with your state laws. If you can hang small items from your rear-view mirror, stick to non-obstructive ones. 

Also, be careful who uses your handicap parking permit 

Sometimes, you might need to use someone else’s vehicle for a short time. But you have an accessible parking permit. Can you legally transfer the placard to the other car? 

According to Shouse California Law Group, “State laws throughout the United States say that handicap permit holders are the only people that can legally use them. But a person can generally use a parking placard as either a driver or a passenger. This means placard holders can use them in another car as long as they are in the car at the time of use.” 

Basically, an accessible parking permit must always be with the person it was issued to, regardless of the vehicle. A driver with a disability cannot lend their hang tag to a friend or family member so that person can get a better parking spot. The owner of the permit must be present with the placard.

The misuse of an accessible parking permit varies by state but can include a fine, revocation of the permit, and/or community service. 

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