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Information for Disabled Drivers in California

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In California, drivers certified by licensed health personnel to have impaired mobility or a condition which substantially interferes with mobility may qualify for "Disabled" status.

You are also considered a disabled driver if you have

  • A heart, lung or circulatory disease.
  • Any disorder that limits the use of lower extremities; or either or both hands or legs.
  • Documented problems with vision, including partial-sightedness or low vision.

Disabled persons can acquire a Disabled Person (DP) placard or DP license plates. These entitle you to special parking privileges in areas designated for disabled persons, whenever you are the driver or a passenger of the vehicle. Misuse or abuse of these privileges is a misdemeanor; offenders can get fines of $250-$1000 and/or imprisonment in county jail for up to 6 months. Forgery and/or trading in counterfeit or genuine placards invite higher penalties, including time in state prison.

Other facilities available for disabled drivers include:

  • Window decals for holders of DP placards or plates, whose vehicles have wheelchairs or lifts that obstruct the rear license plate.
  • Ability to take a leashed service animal along to the DMV.
  • Alternative methods to complete the written Drivers License Examination.
  • TTY for Speech and Hearing Impaired.
  • Specially designated counters for Disabled Persons at the DMV office.

Visit the section on California DMV's Disabled Customers for details.

HOW TO APPLY FOR DISABLED STATUS

You are considered to have disabled status when you acquire a DP placard or license plates. The procedure to acquire these is explained below.

Duration of status

DP license plates are available only to those who are permanently disabled.

DP placards may be issued to those with permanent or temporary disabilities:

  • Placards for the permanently disabled are valid for 2 years.
  • Temporary placards are valid for up to 6 months or the date noted by your physician, whichever is lesser.
  • Travel placards valid for 30 days are available for CA residents with permanent DP placards or plates.
  • Travel placards valid for 90 days (or the date noted by your physician) are available for non-residents who are permanently disabled.

How to apply for DP license plates or a DP placard

To obtain DP license plates:

  1. Download and complete the Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates (REG 195).
  2. Have a licensed physician, surgeon, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner or certified midwife sign the Doctor's Certification of Disability portion of the form.
  3. Provide the current registration card in your name, or documents that prove the vehicle is registered in your name; as well as any registration fees due on the vehicle.
  4. Surrender the current license plates of the vehicle.
  5. Mail the completed form, along with any fees, to the address on the form.

To obtain a DP placard:

  1. Download and complete the Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates (REG 195).
  2. Have a licensed physician, surgeon, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner or certified midwife sign the Doctor's Certification of Disability portion of the form.
  3. Mail the completed form, along with any fees, to the address on the form.

Alternatively, to obtain either the plates or the placard, you can make an appointment online and take the form to a local DMV office. You will receive your placard (or plates) within approximately two weeks. Along with your new plates, you will receive a self-certification form verifying your eligibility for the plates, which you must carry with you when in the vehicle, and present upon request by law enforcement officers or other authorized persons.

EXEMPTIONS

You do not need a doctor's certificate, if:

  • You have lost (or lost the use of) either or both hands, or lower extremities, and you appear at a local DMV office in person.
  • You already have a California DP or Disabled Veteran (DV) license plate, and the number is entered in part "A" of the application form (for plates) or part "B" of the application form (for placards).

FEE

A permanent DP placard, or a travel DP placard is free. There is also no fee for replacement. A fee of $6 is charged for a temporary placard. There is no fee for permanent DP plates. Substitute plates cost $20.

RENEWAL

Once the 2 year validity of permanent DP placards is over (they expire on June 30 of an odd-numbered year):

  1. The DMV will automatically mail you a new placard and ID card to the address on record.
  2. If your address has changed, download and fill out the Change of Address Form (DMV 14) and mail it to the address on the form. Note that the online "Change of Address service" is not available for placards - you must manually fill out and mail the form.
  3. Holders of permanent placards do not require recertification by a doctor.

REPLACEMENT

To replace lost, stolen or mutilated placards or plates:

  1. Download and complete the Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers and Documents (REG 156).
  2. Enclose any mutilated placard or remaining plates.
  3. (For placards) Mail the application, along with any fee (for substitute temporary placards or plates) to:
    DMV Placard 
    PO Box 942869 
    Sacramento, CA 94269-0001.    
  4. (For plates) Mail the application, along with the substitute plate fee of $17, to:
    DMV-SPU-MS D238
    PO Box 932345
    Sacramento, CA 94232-3450.    
  1. Alternatively, make an appointment and take the completed application to a local DMV office.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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