Drive on almost any road in Killeen, Copperas Cove or Harker Heights and they can be seen: vehicles with a “DV” on the license plate.
It stands for disabled veteran, and there are a lot of them in Bell County; 11,505, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Only Bexar County (San Antonio) has more, with 26,768 registered DV plates.
Harris County (Houston) is the third highest with 8,991 DV plates, followed by Tarrant County (6,454), Guadalupe County (4,681), Dallas County (3,331) and Travis County (3,078). Coryell County has 1,492, and statewide, there are 127,293 registered DV plates.
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 persons with disabilities, and are exempt from local and state parking meters, according to the DMV.
A vet’s view
While state law is clear on the parking rights, there are a lot of misconceptions in the public, said Copperas Cove resident Thomas Nickson, a retired Army sergeant first class.
“The most places I shop at are H-E-B and Walmart, and that’s where I see the problems,” said the 59-year-old Nickson, who has a heart condition and two metal plates in his body, qualifying him for a 100 percent disability rating with Veterans Affairs. To receive a DV plate in Texas, veterans must show proof from the VA that they have a disability rating of at least 50 percent.
However, problems arise when spouses or other family members use a DV-plate vehicle without the disabled veteran inside.
Nickson said he gets irritated when he sees “a teenager get out of the vehicle and zip in the store.”
If the disabled veteran is not in the vehicle when it is parked in a handicap-marked zone, the driver can receive a $500 fine, according to the DMV.
Apart from those who use DV plates when they shouldn’t, there also is misunderstanding about DV plates in general, Nickson said.
He said people have questioned him when he has parked his three-wheeled motorcycle in a handicap parking space, despite the vehicle having the proper designation. Others have said that DV plates are only good at Fort Hood. Not true, said Nickson, who keeps a copy of the state law governing DV plates in his vehicle.
DMV charges a specialty plate fee of $3 for the first set of DV plates. There is no fee for additional sets of plates, however, the applicant will be required to pay the registration fee.
Other military plates
Of all 254 counties in Texas, Bell County has the highest number of Bronze Star license plates with 191, followed by Bexar County (118), Tarrant County (43), Williamson County (42) and Coryell County (38). Statewide, there are 809 registered Bronze Star plates.
Bexar County has the highest number of Purple Heart plates with 2,050, followed by Harris County (1,371), Bell County (1,342) and Tarrant County (1,177). Coryell County has 363 registered Purple Heart plates. There are 18,509 Purple Heart plates statewide.
There are only nine Medal of Honor plates in the state. One of them is in Coryell County.