The eclectic city of Austin is known for its live music, incredible food, and welcoming atmosphere, with more and more people moving to the popular Texan city. But if you’re moving to this great city as a disabled driver, how can you get a disabled parking permit in Austin?
The process is fairly simple, as long as you meet the requirements. Once you have your permit, you can legally park in not only Austin disabled parking spots, but also any disabled parking spaces throughout Texas.
Here’s how to get a disabled parking permit in Austin, along with some tips on the city’s disabled parking system.
Qualifications for handicap parking in Austin
As a driver in Austin, disabled parking is regulated by the state of Texas. To apply, you’ll first need to meet one of the eligibility qualifications. These include:
- Impaired vision
- Mobility limitations caused by health issues including arthritis, lung disease, paralysis, health or cardiovascular issues, or disorders with one or both feet
- The need to use portable oxygen
- The inability to walk for more than 200 feet without needing to stop for a break
- The need for use of a wheelchair, cane, crutches, or walking aid for any other health condition
Your disability doesn’t need to be permanent, as Texas offers a red permit, which is temporary and valid for six months. Those with a permanent disability will qualify for a permanent placard, which is blue, along with a permanent disability license plate for their car.
Unsure which permit is best for you? Talk to your doctor or book a telehealth consultation.
How to apply for a disabled parking permit in Austin
Here’s everything you need to know about applying for your permit. The process is straightforward and shouldn’t take up too much of your time.
1. Download the application form
When you’re ready to apply, start by downloading a copy of form VTR-214, which is the Application for Persons with Disabilities Parking Placard and/or License Plate form. The same form is used for both temporary and permanent parking permit applications.
Fill out all of the sections that need to be completed by the applicant. This includes details on your address and your driver’s license number. You’ll also need to sign the form yourself to verify that all the details you provided are correct.
2. Obtain sign-off from a medical professional
Next, you need to work with a medical professional to complete the ‘Disability Statement’ section of the application. A licensed professional needs to sign off on each form so that the state can ensure the person applying has a genuine need.
Your medical professional must fit into one of these categories:
- They must hold a medical license in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, or Arkansas
- They must practice in a Texas military facility or a veteran’s hospital
This is a simple step and shouldn’t take long. Your application can be completed by a physician, a physician’s assistant, a podiatrist, an optometrist, or an advanced practice nurse.
3. Submit your completed application
Once your application form is completed, submit it to your local county tax office. Since Austin is spread across three counties (Travis, Hays, and Williamson), you can go to whichever office is closest to you, or you can mail in your form.
There’s no charge for permanent disability permit applications, but temporary permits require a $5 fee. Once approved, you’ll be given your new permit, or in the case of postal applications, it will be mailed to your nominated address.
Rules for handicap parking spaces in Austin
Once you have your disability permit, you want to be sure you’re using it correctly. Disabled parking rules in Austin are similar to other cities, in that permits can only be used by a driver with a disability or by a driver transporting someone with a disability.
While parking in your spot, your disabled parking permit needs to be clearly visible, so hang it on your rearview mirror. Drivers are not allowed to share their permit with others – each individual needs to use their own permit.
Also be sure to always stay alert and focused when driving in Texas!
Is handicap parking free in Austin?
Many disabled drivers worry about the cost of parking, as cities like Austin are known to have expensive hourly rates. The cost of parking all depends on where you park.
If you’re in a metered spot, such as on the street or in a city-owned parking lot, disabled drivers don’t need to pay. However, these spots are still restricted to the time limits stated on the meter. So, if you’re parked in a one-hour only spot, you don’t need to pay – but you do need to make sure you leave within the hour to avoid a fine.
Austin also runs a program called the Affordable Parking Program, which helps low-income earners park in the downtown areas for cheaper rates. Depending on your situation, you may qualify if you need to drive into the city daily without relying on metered parking. Plus, you may also qualify for a disabled toll permit, helping you save on toll fees when traveling.
Privately owned parking garages are controlled by their owners, so some may offer free disabled parking and others may not. If you’re unsure, it’s always helpful to call the parking garage and check before driving there, so you can be prepared.
With your disability permit, you can make the most of living in the fantastic city of Austin, thanks to the convenience and safety of disabled parking!