Of the variety of topics I’ve covered with this column, few have garnered more response — or emotion — than the article on DV license plates.
DV, as many folks know around here, stands for “Disabled Veteran,” and Texas allows a specialized licensed plate marked with the letters “DV” and a series of numbers. Bell County has more than 11,500 vehicles with DV-designated plates, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Only Bexar County (San Antonio) has more, with nearly 27,000 registered DV plates.
It’s been months since I wrote about DV plates, but just last week I got an email from a veteran who said there are a lot of folks who still don’t know what these specialized plates mean.
According to the DMV, drivers with DV-designated plates have “the same parking rights and privileges as ones with the universal symbol of access,” which resembles a person sitting in a wheelchair.
Specifically, drivers with DV plates can park in any spot designated for people with disabilities, and are exempt from local and state parking meters, according to the DMV.
The veteran who emailed me about it last week lives in Wimberley, a small town about 100 miles south of Killeen. There, he said, he routinely gets nasty looks and notes on his windshield whenever he parks in a designated handicapped parking spot.
It’s not because folks in Wimberley hate veterans, but they don’t know about the DV plate law, and they think this particular vet is simply parking in handicapped-marked parking spots.
But, like others with DV plates, this guy has 100 percent disability status from Veterans Affairs.
“I am a Vietnam vet and I put in a lot of blood and guts to be able to have those tags and the rewards that go with it,” he wrote.
He said he even contacted the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and was told if he didn’t have a wheelchair on his plate, he couldn’t park in a handicapped zone.
When the law doesn’t know the law, there’s a problem. People shouldn’t be criticizing him for parking, but rather, thanking him for his service.
Here in Bell County, where we have more than 1,300 Purple Heart plates and nearly 200 Bronze Star plates, I don’t think that kind of ignorance is as widespread.
Still, even with all of the active-duty personnel, veterans and military-friendly folks around here, there are some people who don’t know that DV plates allow the driver to park in a handicapped-marked spot. That said, the disabled veteran does need to be in the vehicle. A teenage son can’t use his dad’s pickup to go get some chips at H-E-B, and park in a handicapped spot if his disabled veteran dad is not in the vehicle.
I’ve heard that happens sometimes.
Another option disabled vets have is to get the universal handicapped sign imprinted next to the “DV” when they apply with Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for the specialized license plate, which costs $3.
Everyone in the world, it seems, knows a car with the handicapped sign on its license plate can park in a handicapped zone.
The knowledge about the DV plates, however, just hasn’t caught on with the general public. And it may be a few more years before veterans with DV plates can park in a handicapped spot anywhere and not have someone give them a nasty look.
The veteran in Wimberley wanted to know where he could get a copy of the law that allows DV plates to park in handicapped zones. I forwarded him a website link that he can print out: ftp.txdmv.gov/pub/txdot-info/vtr/misc/placard_plates.pdf