Drivers With Disabilities

§ 304a. Special registration plates and placards for people with disabilities.

(a) The following definitions shall apply to this section:

(1) "Ambulatory disability" means an impairment which prevents or impedes walking. A person shall be considered to have an ambulatory disability if he or she is a person who:

(A) cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest; or

(B) cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device; or

(C) is restricted by lung disease to such an extent that the person's 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; or

(D) uses portable oxygen; or

(E) has a cardiac condition to the extent that the person's functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to standards set by the American Heart Association; or

(F) is severely limited in his or her ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition.

(2) "Blind" means the visual impairment of an individual whose central visual acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with corrective lenses or whose visual acuity, if better than 20/200, is accompanied by a limit to the field of vision in the better eye to such a degree that its widest diameter subtends an angle of no greater than 20 degrees.

(3) "Special registration plates" means a registration plate for people with disabilities that displays the international symbol of access:

(A) in a color that contrasts with the background; and

(B) in the same size as the letters or numbers on the plate.

(4) "Removable windshield placard" means a two-sided, hanger style placard which includes on each side:

(A) the international symbol of access, which is at least three inches in height, centered on the placard, and is white on a blue shield;

(B) an identification number;

(C) a date of expiration; and

(D) the seal or other identification of the issuing authority.

(5) "Temporary removable windshield placard" means a two-sided hanger style placard which includes on each side:

(A) the international symbol of access, which is at least three inches in height, centered on the placard, and is white on a red shield;

(B) an identification number;

(C) a date of expiration; and

(D) the seal or other identification of the issuing authority.

(b) Special registration plates or removable windshield placards or both shall be issued by the Vermont commissioner of motor vehicles. The placard shall be issued without a fee to a person who is blind or has an ambulatory disability. One set of plates shall be issued without additional fees for a vehicle registered to a person who is blind or has an ambulatory disability. The commissioner shall issue these placards or plates under rules adopted by him or her after proper application has been made to the commissioner by any person residing within the state of Vermont. Application forms shall be available on request at the department of motor vehicles.

(1) Upon application for a special registration plate or removable windshield placard, the commissioner shall send a form prescribed by him or her to the applicant to be signed and returned by a licensed physician. The commissioner shall file the form for future reference and issue the placard or plate. A new application shall be submitted every four years in the case of placards and at every third registration renewal for plates but in no case greater than every four years. When a licensed physician has previously certified to the commissioner that an applicant's condition is both permanent and stable, a special registration plate or placard may be renewed by the applicant without submission of a form signed by a licensed physician.

(2) Upon application of an organization, the commissioner shall issue special registration plates for a vehicle registered in the applicant's name if the vehicle is primarily used to transport persons who have an ambulatory disability or are blind. Placards shall also be issued without a fee, upon application in a form prescribed by the commissioner, to an organization to be used when transporting persons who have an ambulatory disability or are blind. The plates and placards shall be subject to the restrictions set forth in subdivision (a)(3) of this section.

(3) A person with a disability who abuses such privileges or allows individuals not disabled to abuse the privileges herein provided may have this privilege revoked after suitable notice and opportunity for hearing has been given him or her by the commissioner of motor vehicles. Hearings under the provisions of this section shall be held in accordance with sections 105-107 of this title and shall be subject to review by the district court of the county wherein the person with a disability resides.

(4) An applicant for a special handicapped plate or placard may request the district court in the county in which he or she resides to review a decision by the commissioner to deny his or her application for a special registration plate or placard.

(5) If the authenticity of the medical need for the special registration is challenged with reasons in writing, the commissioner may have physicians with the Vermont department of health review the medical facts, with the knowledge of the person with a disability and the licensed medical doctor who filled in the medical form for the special registration, in order to determine eligibility and so notify all concerned of the facts and the recommendations.

(6) On a form prescribed by the commissioner, a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer drivers to transport persons who have an ambulatory disability or are blind may apply to the commissioner for a placard. Placards shall be marked "volunteer driver." The organization shall ensure proper use of placards and maintain an accurate and complete record of the volunteer drivers to whom the placards are given by the organization. Placards shall be returned to the organization when the volunteer driver is no longer performing that service. Abuse of the privileges provided by the placards may result in the privileges being revoked and the placards repossessed by the commissioner. Revocation may occur only after suitable notice and opportunity for a hearing. Hearings shall be held in accordance with sections 105-107 of this title.

(c) Vehicles with special registration plates or removable windshield placards from any state or which have a handicapped parking card issued by the commissioner of motor vehicles may use the special parking spaces when the card or placard is displayed in the lower right side of the windshield or the plate is mounted as provided in section 511 of this title or as provided by the law of the state where the vehicle is registered.

(d) A person who is blind or who has an ambulatory disability may park without fee for not more than 10 continuous days in a parking zone which is restricted as to the length of time parking is permitted. This section shall not apply to zones in which parking, standing, or stopping of all vehicles is prohibited, which are reserved for special vehicles, or where parking is prohibited by any parking ban. As a condition to this privilege, the vehicle shall display the special handicapped plate or placard issued by the commissioner or a special registration license plate or placard issued by any other jurisdiction.

(e) A person, other than a person with a disability, who for his or her own purposes parks a vehicle in a space for persons with disabilities shall be fined $100.00 for each violation and shall be liable for towing charges. He or she shall also be liable for storage charges not to exceed $12.00 per day, and an artisan's lien may be imposed against the vehicle for payment of the charges assessed. The person in charge of the parking space or spaces for persons with a disability or any duly authorized law enforcement officer shall cause the removal of a vehicle parked in violation of this section. A violation of this section shall be considered a traffic violation within the meaning of chapter 29 of Title 4.

(f) Persons who are temporarily disabled with an ambulatory disability may apply for a temporary removable windshield placard to the commissioner on a form prescribed by him or her. The placard shall be valid for a period of up to six months and displayed as required under the provisions of 23 V.S.A. § 304a(c). The application shall be signed by a licensed physician. The validation period of the temporary placard shall be established on the basis of the written recommendation from a licensed physician. The commissioner shall promulgate rules to implement the provisions of this subsection.

Added 1987, No. 268 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. June 21, 1988; amended 1989, No. 51, § 12; No. 56; 1991, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1993; 1999, No. 34, § 5; 1999, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 29, 2000; 2003, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 60, eff. June 9, 2004.

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