The Four Mistakes to Avoid When You Have a Handicap Parking Placard

Okay, sure. I’m new to the Parking Placard Party ™, and I’m no expert on parking lot etiquette, but I felt compelled to compile a quick list of my parking placard tips and pet peeves that you may find useful.

Mind the Lines.

Whether you’re parking inside of or next to a handicap space, respect the lines on the pavement. There is a reason these spots have extra space on the sides. Every inch of that is valuable to someone who needs it for a ramp and wheelchair.

Do Not Apologize.

Yep. Our greatest fear. You just hung your tag from the rearview mirror, and all those non-disabled people are staring at you as you exit your car–especially if your disability isn’t blatantly visible. But you don’t look sick. So what? Your disability is valid, and it’s no one else’s business. You’re not obligated to explain yourself or prove anything to anyone. Leave your car with your head held high.

It’s Not a Competition.

Along the same vein, you aren’t entitled to act as a referee either. They don’t tell you this in the fine print, but a handicap parking placard does not double as a Parking Lot Police badge. I have fallen victim to the side-eye given by other disabled placard holders, scanning me from head to toe until they detect anything that indicates I’m one of them, perhaps even comparing their affliction to mine. This isn’t a competition. And even if it was, is it really one that anyone wants to win? Don’t judge others based on what you don’t know. Jesus ain’t hiring.



This final one is not for placard holders–it’s for their able-bodied, non-handicapped friends and family.

Dear sirs and madams: Congrats! You know a disabled person! Here is the number one parking placard sin that some of you may have already committed. It’s important, and I’m only going to say this once, so read carefully.


Hold on. I need one thing before I can continue.

Much better.

It. Is. Not. Yours. To. Use.

There are a couple situations in which others can benefit from my legal rights. For example, if I’m sharing a hotel room with people, they are welcome to use the refrigerator that is provided for my medication. Similarly, when going anywhere with a group, whether it’s a large event or simply running errands, I’m pretty popular because I can park closest to the destination.

However. If I am not driving or riding in a vehicle with you, do not ask to borrow my placard.

Guys. Aside from the fact that the person you’re trying to leech off of can be fined or have their pass revoked, please consider the following before putting everyone in an uncomfortable situation because you don’t feel like walking a few hundred feet:

The very personal decision that your loved one made to get a handicapped parking placard was not made carelessly or easily, and the doctors who signed the forms didn’t do so arbitrarily. Receiving our parking pass is oftentimes a very difficult realization that we’ve hit a milestone that we never, ever wanted to reach. It’s painful. It forces us to admit something to ourselves that we don’t want to admit. It represents something that we once were able to do with ease, but may never do again.

Please don’t exploit that for your convenience.

And last, please consider that if you were able to pressure someone into letting you borrow their pass, you are now taking up a parking space that someone else may genuinely need. Don’t be that person. Do be thankful you don’t actually need that pass to function normally. Many people would be thrilled to walk that extra distance.


Really, all of these come down to simply being considerate of other people and their needs. That distance between the vehicle and the entrance to the destination can be unnecessarily stressful.

What are your tips and tricks for navigating these hurdles?

7 thoughts on “The Four Mistakes to Avoid When You Have a Handicap Parking Placard

  1. Ari

    Great post! Since I got my placard (almost 3 years ago), I’ve been prepared to answer a comment or side-eye with a sassy “They give these things out like candy!” But my spouse got the first doubting comment and handled it with maturity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post!

    I’d add one reminder to the able-bodied: Do NOT use the walkway as a parking space. I couldn’t get into my car twice because people parked in the walkway.

    One thing we learned the hard way is that, if you’re a frequent passenger in someone else’s car, get 2 placards instead of just one. I’d leave it in my husband’s car or forget to put it in while riding with him. When we renewed my placard, we ordered 2 so that he would have one in his glove compartment when he was driving me around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I definitely should have added that point to the “Mind the Lines” portion. Thanks for bring it up! 🙂

      And, yes, I definitely recommend getting two—I keep one in my husband’s car.


  3. themsmom

    Excellent post!

    I have 1 tip I’d like to pass along. If you’re frequently a passenger, it makes sense to get two placards. That way, you have a placard you can use when someone offers to drive you someone, but you can still keep one in your car so that you won’t get stuck driving somewhere without it. We keep one in my husband’s car so that we can still park where I need to. When we only had one placard, I’d forget to take it with me, or I’d leave it in his car so I couldn’t use it when I drove somewhere.


  4. alibaba735

    This is a good article. I don’t think that we can get two parking placards in our area, British Columbia in Canada. I’ll ask some time. I’ve had to go down to our car to get my parking placard some times when going out with a friend and I’ve forgotten to bring the parking placard up to the apartment.

    The comment about not judging others is a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Donna SMITH

    When you only have a temporary for a few months…where do you place it so you dont forget to display it….I got a ticket…the police saw in between my seats but could not see the exp. date.


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