The day is approaching for a new law to take effect that will require those with disabled veteran (“DV”) specialty license plates to display a handicap placard or a handicap designation on the license plate to park in a handicap parking spot.
Under current Texas law, those with DV plates did not need the handicap designation or placard to park in handicap parking spaces. But that will change when a new law takes effect next year.
Some reports have said the law that was passed as Senate Bill 792 will go into effect Sept. 1, but according to the chief of staff of one of the bill’s authors, it is Jan. 1.
“As far as getting in trouble for not adhering, that would be Jan. 1,” said Carrie Smith, chief of staff for Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels.
Senate Bill 792, amends the Texas Transportation Code to reflect the above listed requirements.
The bill summary of the enrolled bill signed by Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed what Smith said.
“Except for provisions requiring the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt rules for issuing the plates that include the international symbol of access, the bill takes effect January 1, 2022,” the analysis on the Capitol website said.
Currently, those with disabled veteran license plates can utilize handicapped parking spaces, whether they are mobility impaired or not.
On April 8, the Texas Senate unanimously passed the bill, and on May 8, the Texas House voted 138-1 to pass the bill. Reps. Brad Buckley, Hugh Shine and Shelby Slawson — who represent portions of the Killeen-Fort Hood area — all voted in favor. Abbott signed the bill on May 24.
Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 792 at the urging of organizations such as Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans.
According to an analysis of the final version of the bill, those organizations, and ones like them, “have asked for this to be changed as it has often led to a lack of handicapped parking, especially at Veterans Administration facilities.”
According to the bill, what goes into effect Sept. 1 is the provision that sets the Dec. 1 deadline for the Texas DMV to adopt the rules goes for obtaining license plates with the International Symbol of Access.
In a news release on Aug. 6 from Texas DMV, the license plates with the International Symbol of Access will not be available for issuance until Jan. 1.
For those wishing to get the license plates with the International Symbol of Access, applicants will need to provide a written statement from a licensed physician.
The note from the physician will verify the veteran has a mobility issue and needs a placard or a license plate with the International Symbol of Access.
Types of placards
In the state of Texas, there are a couple different types of placards — temporary and permanent.
Temporary placards are red in color and are good for six months or less at a time. Permanent placards are blue in color and are good for four years at a time, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Qualifications and benefits
To qualify for a disabled veteran specialty license plate, a veteran must have a 50% or more disabled designation from the Department of Veteran Affairs for service connected disabilities or a 40% rating due to amputation of a lower extremity.
Vehicles with such plates are exempt from paying parking fees collected through a parking meter charged by a governmental authority other than a branch of the federal government, according to the office of the governor.
To read the final version of Senate Bill 792, click here.
To read the enrolled bill summary, click here.
To read the analysis of the enrolled bill, click here.