Disability Parking in Colorado

You always see the blue spots at the front of the parking lot, right by the entrance. Everyone knows that to park there, special qualifications need to be met. The only way to access these spots is to receive permission from the state. In gathering that permission, additional steps must be taken including a consultation with the doctor. It isn’t across the board, either. There are different types of disabled parking permits. Some are permanent, some need to be renewed every few years, and others are only temporary. Each state has its own rules and guidelines when it comes to who gets a parking permit and for how long. The process usually isn’t particularly difficult, but it can be time-consuming. Luckily, there are plenty of useful resources at the disposal of anyone looking for a parking permit and not wanting to waste too much time or make too many trips.

Why Does Someone Need a Disabled Parking Permit?

The answer to this question is two parts. The first part is obvious, the second part is far less obvious.

First, it’s right there in the name. If the person is physically disabled, it is hard for that person to get around. They might be on crutches because they broke their leg. Maybe this person is 83 years old and has terrible arthritis. For this reason, they should be able to park as close to the building as they can. If they acquire a disabled parking pass, they’ll be able to do that.

Second, and less obvious, have you noticed the big gap there usually is between two disabled parking spots? Look back at the picture above. You can see there is a space with blue lines crossing through it, about three feet wide between each space. This is because many vehicles that obtain disabled parking permits transport people in wheelchairs.

It can be hard enough to get out of a car if you are completely physically capable and someone parks too close to your car. You might have to squeeze, but you can manage. Someone in a wheelchair isn’t going to be able to do that. So it is important to keep in mind if you do end up getting a disabled parking permit. That doesn’t mean that you can just throw your car in the gap between disabled parking spots if they are all taken.

Why Write About Colorado Specifically?

Well, if there was a federal policy in place that applied to all states, it would not be necessary to write about any states in particular. However, this is not the case and the rules are state by state. Colorado has some of its own rules which do not overlap with other states.

There are certain factors which do apply across most states, though. These mostly deal with acquiring the permit itself. Most states will require the following:

  • You must have a physical disability or a respiratory problem
  • You must go to a doctor who will fill out a form confirming the above

Some states make it easier than other states. Where does Colorado fall on this list? The state is somewhere in the middle of the pack, on the easier side you could say. They do not make people from out of state get a temporary traveling handicap permit, for example.

House Bill 18 – 1285

A more recent development on the disabled parking front in Colorado is House Bill 18 – 1285. This bill changed one important rule regarding disabled individuals and paying for parking. Originally, disabled individuals would need to pay for parking the same as anyone else. However, this new bill makes it so certain individuals no longer need to pay for parking if they fulfill any of the following criteria, available on Colorado’s state website:

  • Limited fine motor control with both hands
  • Unable to reach a height of 48 inches off the ground due to lack of finger, hand, upper strength, mobility
  • Unable to access parking meter due to use of wheelchair

This rule is unique to Colorado, although it’s likely that other states will implement similar policies eventually.

What Does Colorado Consider ‘Disabled’?

Several criteria are contributing to whether or not a person can be eligible for a disabled parking permit. To be qualified you only need to meet one of these requirements.

  • Limited Mobility (Cannot walk more than 200 feet at once)
  • Assisted Mobility (Person needs a cane or other device to assist movement)
  • Respiratory Problems (Severe enough to limit mobility significantly)
  • Oxygen (Utilizing an oxygen mask)
  • Cardiac (More severe cardiac conditions can qualify)
  • Other (This covers arthritis, neurological problems, etc.)

If you do meet one of the criteria above, you’ll be able to apply for a disabled parking permit. Naturally, depending on where you fall specifically will end up determining what kind of disabled parking permit you’ll receive.

What’s a Placard?

The placard is the thing that you hang on the rearview mirror, notifying other vehicles that you have a handicapped parking permit. Police officers need to identify whether or not the vehicle is authorized, the placard makes life easier for them.

That’s an important note to make; many police like to be able to give away easy tickets. There are few tickets easier to give than if someone is parked in a handicap parking spot without a permit. It is important not to park in a disabled parking spot without a permit, and if you do have a permit make sure your placard is hanging and in clear view.

The placard will be provided by the state, and if you ever need a replacement you can order one through the state’s website.


Colorado is not much different than any state when it comes to acquiring a disabled parking permit. The criteria they have does not diverge much, if at all. The only notable difference is the result of the recent House Bill 18 – 1285. If you are seeking to get a disabled parking permit in Colorado, a lot of the process can be done online at the state’s website, linked above. It is important, upon acquiring a permit, that you follow the rules associated with it or risk losing it.