Disabled Driver Laws and Permits in Illinois

It is important to understand what the laws and guidelines are for disabled drivers in your state and others. Each state has its own requirements for disabled drivers. Whether you are visiting a state or just traveling through, you should be acquainted with that state’s specific laws and regulations.

How do I know if I am eligible for a disabled parking placard or license plate in the state of Illinois?

You may be eligible if you suffer from one of the following:

  • The inability to walk 200 feet without resting or assistance from another person
  • You must carry portable oxygen
  • A neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic condition that limits your mobility
  • The loss of a limb or both hands
  • A lung disease the severely inhibits your ability to breathe
  • Legal blindness
  • A cardiac condition classified as a Class III or IV by the American Heart Association
  • The inability to walk without a wheelchair, cane, crutch, or other assistive device

I feel I am eligible for a disabled parking permit. Now how do I apply?

You must first fill out a Persons with Disabilities Certification for Parking Placard/License Plates form. Be sure to take this form to a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner who can then certify that you suffer from one or more of these ailments and that you are therefore eligible for a disabled driver parking placard. Lastly, mail the form to the following address:

Secretary of State
Persons with Disabilities License Plates/Placard Unit
501 S. Second St., Rm. 541
Springfield, IL 62756

What types of placards are available in Illinois?

Illinois offers temporary and permanent placards, as well as permanent license plates for disabled drivers. Placards are free of charge and they are available in two types: temporary, which are colored bright red, and permanent, which are colored blue.

How long do I have until my placard expires?

Temporary placards are valid for a maximum of six months. These placards are issued if you have a minor disability, or one that will go away in six months or less. Permanent placards are valid for four years, and these are issued if you have a disability that you will have presumably for the rest of your life.

Once I receive my placard, where should I display it?

Placards should be hung from your rearview mirror. Make sure that a law enforcement officer is able to see the placard clearly should he or she need to. You need to hang the placard only after you have parked your vehicle. While driving you do not need to display the placard, as this may obstruct your vision while driving. If you do not have a rearview mirror, you may hang your placard from a sun visor or on your dashboard.

Where am I allowed to park with my disability placard?

In the state of Illinois, possessing a disability placard and/or license plate entitles you to park in any area marked with the International Symbol of Access. You may not park in spaces marked “no parking anytime” or in bus zones.

What about spaces with parking meters?

Beginning in 2014, Illinois no longer allows anyone with a disabled parking permit to park in meter zones without paying the meter. You are allowed to park free in a metered space for thirty minutes, and after that, you must move or pay the meter.

However, the Secretary of State in Illinois offers meter exempt placards if you are permanently disabled and cannot handle coins or tokens because you have limited control of both of your hands, if you cannot access a parking meter or walk more than twenty feet without requiring a rest or assistance. These placards are colored yellow and gray and may be issued only to individuals, not organizations.

What is the difference between possessing a disabled driver license plate and a placard?

Permanent placards and license plates serve the same basic function for the disabled driver. However, please be aware that placards are free, while license plates cost 29 dollars plus a 101 dollar registration fee. If you prefer to have a license plate rather than a placard, you will need to complete the same form you would complete for a placard, and mail your information to:

Secretary of State
Disabilities License Plates/Placard Unit
501 S. 2nd St., Rm 541
Springfield, IL 62756

What if I misplace my placard?

If your placard is misplaced, stolen, or damaged, you can request a replacement placard by mail. You will need to complete the same application form you filled out when first applying for the placard, along with a 10 dollar replacement fee, and then you will mail these items to the Secretary of State’s address above.

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