DV plate

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 Bell County disabled veterans will not need to immediately apply for a new plate or placard when the state’s handicapped parking law starts Jan. 1.

The law will require motorists with disabled veteran plates to apply for a handicapped placard to park in spaces set aside for the disabled.

However, residents who have a current license plate or placard featuring the International Symbol of Access won’t have to do have to reapply until that plate or placard has expired, the local tax assessor-collector said.

“Residents who currently have disabled veteran plates with an ISA symbol on it or a blue or red handicap placard are grandfathered in,” Bell County Tax Assessor-Collector Shay Luedeke said in a news release. “They do not have to apply and provide disability documentation again until their current plate or placard has expired.”

The parking changes were announced Thursday by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Currently, those with disabled veteran license plates can park in handicapped parking spaces regardless if they are mobility impaired or not.

Drivers with disabled veteran plates, who wish to use disabled parking spaces in 2022, may apply for a disabled parking placard or a new disabled veteran license plate. Bell County applicants may submit their paperwork at any Bell County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office, Luedeke said.

Senate Bill 792 amended the Texas Transportation Code to reflect the new requirements.

“As far as getting in trouble for not adhering, that would be Jan. 1,” Carrie Smith, chief of staff for co-author, Republican Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, told FME News Service.

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 24 after the Texas Senate and Texas House both approved the measure. Local Reps. Hugh Shine, Brad Buckley and Shelby Slawson all voted for the bill.

Organizations such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans urged passage of the bill because of the lack of handicapped parking at Veterans Administration facilities.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles said it will begin issuing license plates with the International Symbol of Access on Jan. 1.

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.

Two types of placards — temporary and permanent — will be available. Temporary placards, which are red, are valid for six months or less. Permanent placards are colored blue and are good for four years.

Vehicles with disabled veteran 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, officials said.

A parking placard or plate with the ISA symbol is only valid when it is used by the person with the disability or someone who is driving the person with the disability, Luedeke said.

It is a violation of state law to use the placard or plates for a disabled parking spot without the person with the disability in the vehicle. People who misuse disabled parking placards can be fined of up to $1,250 and/or required to perform 50 hours of community service, Luedeke said.

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