Disabled Parking Permits in North Carolina

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

In North Carolina, drivers who qualify can apply for a disabled license plate or windshield placard. Depending on the nature of the applicant’s disability, the parking privileges can be permanent or just temporary. Here are the eligibility requirements and the basics of how the application process works and the penalties for misuse of a disabled parking permit.

Qualifying Conditions for a Disabled Parking Permit

North Carolina law specifies what qualifies as a disability or handicap for purposes of handicap parking privileges. A person qualifies for these parking privileges if he or she:

  • can’t walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • can't walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • is restricted by lung disease to such an extent specified by law
  • uses portable oxygen
  • has certain cardiac conditions
  • is severely limited in their ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition, or
  • is totally blind or has vision so defective as to prevent the performance of ordinary activity for which eyesight is essential.

Generally, the disabled person must obtain a certification from a physician, an ophthalmologist, an optometrist, a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, or the Division of Services for the Blind that the applicant is handicapped. A determination by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs that the applicant is handicapped will also suffice. For an initial application for a temporary removable windshield placard, the certification can be made by a licensed certified nurse-midwife.

Handicapped Parking Privileges

A disabled plate or placard entitles the disabled person or someone transporting the disabled person to park:

  • in spaces specifically designated for persons with disabilities, and
  • for an unlimited period of time in zones restricted as to parking time.

Handicapped license plates and placards are available to permanently disabled persons and the parents or guardians of a permanently disabled child. Handicapped placards are also available for persons with temporary disabilities.

Of course, a driver who is not disabled but uses a handicapped plate or placard to transport someone who is disabled can use the parking privileges only when transporting that person.

Out-of-state handicapped placards and plates entitle the person to the same privileges as an in-state placard or plate.

Duration and Renewal of Handicap Permits

Disabled licensed plates must be renewed annually and permanent disability placards must be renewed every five years. Temporary disability placards are issued for a maximum of six months.

Penalties for Unauthorized Use of a Handicap Placard

Misuse or unauthorized use of a disabled placard can lead to placard revocation and criminal prosecution. Selling a placard is a class 2 misdemeanor and generally carries up to $1,000 in fines and a maximum of 30 days in jail.

More Information

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

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