man in wheelchair

For those without disabilities, it might be puzzling to understand how someone living with one can drive. However, there all sorts of adaptive technologies and assistive materials. If you’ve recently become disabled after being injured in a car accident or through medical conditions, then here’s what you need to know about driving with a disability. 

Can Anyone with a Disability Drive?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people in the workplace as well as on the road. Each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles must comply with this act, which means they cannot deny someone a driver’s license simply because the applicant has a disability. 

States are allowed to make certain restrictions based on limited mobility, hearing, and vision. These restrictions vary by state, with each DMV making their own choices in accordance with the ADA. You also need to make any necessary modifications to your vehicle before driving it.

The law also states that there are some disabilities that make it unsafe to operate a vehicle. Someone who is entirely blind, for instance, wouldn’t be able to drive. The following list contains the disabilities or conditions someone may have and still be able to hold a driver’s license:

  • Reduced function in the limbs
  • Absent limbs
  • Spinal cord injuries up to a certain severity 
  • Mobility issues from degenerative disorders and other causes
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Paraplegia and hemiplegia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuromuscular disease

Disabled Parking

A large part of driving with a disability is having the option to utilize handicap parking spaces. Making these spots wheelchair friendly is part of ADA compliance for any business, but they’re practical for anyone with decreased mobility. 

States have their own rules about disabled parking permits, as well. Some allow you access metered parking without having to pay or stay in time-limited spaces for longer. Your state’s DMV can fill you in on what benefits you’ll receive. 

Obtaining your permit requires a little extra work outside of getting your license. You’ll need to fill out an application at a DMV location or through their website, completing the necessary form. Your healthcare provider also has to fill out a part of this form, certifying your disability. Once submitted, all you have to do is wait. 

There are also temporary permits, which are designed for disabilities that will heal after an accident. You may also qualify for one after certain surgeries. Keep in mind that, temporary or permanent, there are fees associated disabled parking permits. 

Driving with a Disability

You don’t have to give up driving just because of a disability. There are plenty of vehicle modifications to suit your needs as well as additional help with parking. If you’re unsure about whether your disability allows you to drive, check with your state’s DMV. They offer plenty of resources and information on the subject. You can also ask your doctor about your ability to drive for extra input.