Disabled Parking Permits in Michigan

How to obtain and the consequences of misusing a handicap parking placard.

In Michigan, drivers who qualify can apply to the Secretary of State to obtain a handicap parking permit. Depending on the situation, the driver can seek a permanent or temporary permit. Michigan also has a “free parking” permit—which also can be permanent or temporary—for drivers who have certain conditions. Here are the eligibility requirements and the basics of how the application process works and the penalties for misuse of a disabled or free parking permit.

Qualifying Conditions for a Disabled Parking Permit

A disabled plate or placard entitles the person to park in spaces specifically designated for persons with disabilities.

A person who transports a disabled person may also qualify for a disabled license plate or placard. Of course, the person is authorized to use the disabled permit only while transported the person with the qualifying disability.

Michigan law specifies the various conditions that qualify a person to receive a disabled license plate or disabled placard. These conditions include:

  • blindness as determined by an optometrist, a physician, or a physician assistant
  • inability to walk more than 200 feet without having to stop and rest
  • inability to do both of the following: use one or both legs or feet and walk without the use of a wheelchair, walker, crutch, brace, prosthetic, or other device, or without the assistance of another person
  • certain lung diseases
  • certain cardiovascular conditions
  • an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition that severely limits the person’s ability to walk, and
  • the persistent reliance upon an oxygen source other than ordinary air.

Generally, an application for a disabled parking plate or placard must include a certification by a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or physical therapist licensed to practice in Michigan attesting to the nature and estimated duration of the applicant’s disabling condition and verifying the applicant qualifies for the permit.

Qualifying for Free Parking Permit

A handicap permit authorizes the holder to park for free in metered parking or publicly own parking structures.

Michigan law specifies the various conditions that qualify a person to receive a free parking permit. These conditions include being unable to:

  • manage, manipulate, or insert coins, or obtain tickets or tokens in parking meters or ticket machines in parking lots or parking structures due to the lack of fine motor control of both hands
  • reach above his or her head to a height of 42 inches from the ground, due to a lack of finger, hand, or upper extremity strength or mobility
  • approach a parking meter due to his or her use of a wheelchair or other device, and
  • walk more than 20 feet due to an orthopedic, neurological, cardiovascular, or lung condition in which the degree of debilitation is so severe that it almost completely impedes the ability to walk.

As with disability permits, an application for a free parking permit must include a certification from a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or physical therapist licensed to practice in Michigan

Duration and Renewal of Handicap Permits

Disabled and free parking permits and placards can be temporary or permanent. Permanent disability placards and permits are issued to persons whose conditions are not expected to improve and are valid for four years. Temporary disability placards and permits are, as the name suggests, issued to persons whose conditions are only temporary. Depending on the situation, a temporary permit is valid for one to six months.

Penalties for Unauthorized Use of a Handicap Placard

Misuse (including making false statements in an application) or unauthorized use of a handicap or free parking placard or permit is typically a misdemeanor. Generally, a conviction carries up to 30 days in jail and a maximum of $500 in fines. The judge or a law enforcement officer can also confiscate the placard or permit.

More Information

To learn more about or obtain an application for a free parking or disability parking permit or placard, go to the Secretary of State website.

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