Disabled parking can be a tough topic to fully understand. Each state has their standards and set of rules and regulations that add to the jumble of confusing information out in the world. Understandably, it can be a frustrating process to go through.

This guide is meant to clear up any confusion you may have and fully understand all of the rules and regulations behind disabled parking permits in Pennsylvania.

Let’s start with the most complex part:

Who Qualifies For Disabled Parking?

The answer to the question is probably more complicated than you anticipated. As previously stated, each state has its qualifications for those who can own a disabled parking permit.

Pennsylvania’s qualifications are a bit more complex than other states. You must meet at least one or more of the criteria. Here is the list as they are written:

  • You must be blind.
  • You must use portable oxygen.
  • You must not be able to walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive devices.
  • You are restricted by lung disease to such an extent that your forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter or the arterial oxygen tension is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
  • You have a cardiac condition to the extent that your functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to the standards set by the American Heart Association.
  • You must be severely limited in your ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
  • You are in loco parentis of a person specified in one of the above conditions
  • You are the parent, including an adoptive parent or foster parent, of a child or adult child provided that the person has custody, care or control of the child or adult child and the child or adult child satisfies one or more of the condition specified above.
  • You are the spouse of a person specified by one of the conditions listed above.

Some of these qualifications can be confusing to understand. They even reference other organizations at times. So, let’s break down the most complex requirements.

The American Heart Association Requirement

Are you curious about what functional limitations are and who the heck is classifying them? The answer is simpler than you probably think.

The American Heart Association has a set of classifications they use to determine the physical limitations of those who have cardiac disease. What this means, regarding disabled parking permit qualifications, is that a person who has a severe enough cardiac disease may need a permit.

For further clarity, here are the definitions of the American Heart Association’s Class III and Class IV functional capacities:

Class III

  • A person with cardiac disease resulting in marked limitation of physical activity. They are comfortable at rest. Less than ordinary activity causes fatigue, palpitation, dyspnea, or anginal pain.

Class IV

  • A person with cardiac disease resulting in an inability to carry on any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms of heart failure or the anginal syndrome may be present even at rest. If any physical activity is undertaken, discomfort is increased.

What The Heck Is Spirometry And Arterial Tension?


Spirometry is the most common type of pulmonary function breathing test. It measures how much air you inhale and how much air you exhale. It also measures how quickly you exhale. This is a good way to assess how well your lungs work.

Spirometry is used to diagnose a variety of conditions. Many of those who have them would qualify for a disabled parking permit. Some of the conditions it identifies are listed below:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis

Arterial Tension

Arterial tension is simple – it’s your blood pressure. What the qualification is asking is if your blood pressure is in a poor enough state that your physical activity may be limited.

This could be caused by a wide variety of different conditions. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re not sure if you qualify.

I’m A Loco Parentis? What?

No, it doesn’t mean you’re a crazy parent. Although, most parents are!

A person in Loco Parentis is charged by law with the natural parent’s rights, responsibilities, and duties. They act on behalf of a child in place of their natural parents.

So, if you’re the legal guardian of someone who qualifies for a disabled parking permit, you may also apply for a permit. This is to ensure that those with a disability won’t suffer because they are in their legal guardian’s vehicle.

However, it is important to remember that it is illegal to use a disabled parking permit unless the owner is present. Even if you have a legally obtained disabled parking permit, it is illegal to use unless the owner is present.

General Rules And Regulations

Now that you fully understand all of the qualifications and what exactly they mean, it’s time to dive into the actual rules and regulations in Pennsylvania. It’s important to understand all of them so you’re getting the most out of your permit.

Here is a list of some of the most important rules and regulations:

  • Your disabled parking placard must always be shown in your rearview mirror while using a designated space.
  • Make sure to take the placard off the rearview mirror while the vehicle is in motion. This can be seen as an obstruction.
  • If you display someone else’s decal, you can parking in a designated area so long as the intent is to reserve the vehicle for those with a disability.
  • A vehicle used by or for someone with a disability may park for 60 extra minutes of a legal parking period.


By now, disabled parking and disabled parking permits in Pennsylvania should be a breeze for you. Make sure that you fill out your application appropriately when applying and obey all laws to your state and city.