A handicap placard hanging from the rearview mirror in a car.

The Process of Getting a Handicap Placard

If you have trouble walking due to myasthenia gravis and haven’t gotten a handicap placard or license plate, you may want to at least think about it.

You can get a permanent or a temporary placard. In my experience, temporary is generally good for a few months and permanent placards are usually good for 2 years, but this may vary from state to state. They are easy to obtain and you don’t have to be tied to a wheelchair to get one. If you have a medical reason to obtain one, what’s stopping you?

I was restricted

Before I got my placard, I was pretty much restricted to staying home or in the vehicle while my husband did the shopping for us. Myasthenia gravis left me weak and in severe pain most of the time, so I pretty much felt like a prisoner in my own home.

I couldn’t even walk far enough to get to the scooters in the store from any given parking spot. Getting the placard helped me be able to break the "chains" of staying home most of the time.

Submitting an application

Depending on your state, you can typically obtain an application from the county clerk's office, DMV, or online. If you are from another country visiting the United States, you may also be able to apply for a placard.

Read the instructions and complete your portion, then take the document to a licensed physician so they can complete their portion. Determine whether you state requires you to return the application by mail or in person and if any other documents should be included. Some states require a fee for the placard - include this information in your research.

Once you receive the placard, you are allowed to use it right away. You are now permitted to park your vehicle in a handicapped parking space and hang the placard on the rearview mirror. The expiration date will be marked on the placard when you receive it. As long as you are either the driver or passenger in the vehicle, your placard is good in all 50 states! The process for obtaining a handicap plate is very similar to getting the placard.

How to store it

You will often see people driving with the placard hanging on the mirror. The placard is supposed to be removed from the mirror prior to moving the vehicle. When it's not needed, you should store the placard in your glove box or console In the summer, the placards can curl. I speak from experience. So, I would make sure to store it flat and out of the sun, but in the vehicle you ride in the most.

Use it properly

One good thing I've found about a placard versus a license plate is if you have a placard and ride with someone else on occasion, you can use your placard in their vehicle. You can’t do that with a license plate. However, remember you are the person that placard or license plate is for. No one else is supposed to use it, and yes, they can check whose name the placard was issued in.

If you allow your someone else to use your placard without you present, they are using it illegally regardless of whether they need it or not. By allowing someone else to use your placard, you are both misusing it. Misuse can lead to having your placard cancelled, fines for you and the one borrowing/using it, community service, and other possible penalties.

Be sure to check online or at your county clerk’s office in your state and county for accurate information and what paperwork you may need before you begin the process. You should also check with what disability qualifications are determined in your state.

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