FAQs for Customers

Disabled Parking FAQs:

 

Q: Who is eligible for Disabled Parking?
A: Anyone who is legally blind or whose medical professional provides a clinical diagnosis and certifies that the person cannot walk 200 feet without rest or use of an ambulatory aide. For more detailed information see the Disabled Parking section.

 

Q: How do I apply for Disabled Parking?
A: Applications for Disabled Parking are available at all RMV Service Center locations, at the Medical Affairs office and on the Registry of Motor Vehicles Website. All Disabled Parking applications are processed at the Medical Affairs office in Haymarket Center, Boston. An appointment is not required. 

1.  The application must be completed with the disabled customer's information

2.  The medical information must be completed and certified by your medical professional

 

Q: Is there anything else I may need to do to get my Permanent Placard?

A: If your application is completed properly and you qualify for the placard, the placard will be mailed to you. If there is missing or unclear information, you will receive a form entitled, "Request for Additional Information" which needs to be completed by your medical professional and re-submitted to Medical Affairs. Massachusetts law requires the person's picture be displayed on the placard. If your digital picture is not stored with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, you will receive an Approval Notice, which contains instructions for you to have your picture taken by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Bring this letter and four forms of positive identification to your local RMV Service Center, where they will take your picture. The computer is flagged so that your placard will print in Boston the next business morning. It will then be laminated and mailed to you. For more detailed information, see the Permanent Placard or Temporary Placard sections.

 

Q: Who is considered a medical professional?
A: For purposes of certifying the Disabled Parking Application, a medical professional is defined as a Medical Doctor, Optometrist, Chiropractor, Podiatrist, Registered Nurse or Physician Assistant who is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

Q: How long does the application process take?
A: Please allow at least 30 days from date of receipt for your mailed-in application to be processed. Medical Affairs will process walk-in applications the same day.

 

Q: How long is my Disabled Placard valid?
A: Massachusetts law allows disabled placards to be issued for both temporary and permanent conditions. Temporary Placards are issued for periods of two to twenty-four months, depending on the duration certified by your medical professional. Persons with Temporary Placards must have their medical professional request an extension or permanence via the Disabled Placard Application. Placards issued for permanent conditions are valid for five years and will be automatically renewed after address verification. For more detailed information,  see the Permanent Placard or Temporary Placard sections.

 

Q: Where can I use my Disabled Placard?

A: In Massachusetts, you may use your Disabled Placard in any parking space designated as HP parking. Other parking ordinances may be in effect, so obey all designated parking rules. For instance, if a sign says, "Residential Parking Only," then you must also have the proper residence parking authority. Massachusetts law also allows vehicles with proper Disabled Parking authority to disregard most - but not all - public meter fees. Note, however, that the Massachusetts Port Authority does not exempt meter fees for Disabled Parking. Do not park in a cross-hatch area (Zebra Stripe) adjacent to an HP space. This area is reserved for van ramp access. All U.S. States and Canada recognize the Massachusetts Disabled Placard as an authorized document for HP parking. However, New York City does not recognize Disabled Placards issued by any authority other than the City of New York.

 

Q: Who can use my Disabled Placard?

A: The placard is for the disabled person's benefit only and only for the times that person is either in the vehicle or being dropped off or picked up. Do not let anyone else use your disabled placard parking privileges. If you abuse your disabled placard, or if you allow someone else to do so, one or both of you may be fined $500 - $1,000, face a 30-day license suspension, and lose the disabled parking privileges. For more detailed information, see the Misuse of Disability (HP) Plates and Placards section.

 

Q: How can I get an HP sign in front of my house?

A: The Registry of Motor Vehicles does not designate HP parking spaces. You must inquire with your local City or Town office. Many cities have Disability Commissions which can assist you with this.

 

Q: Will applying for Disabled Parking affect my driver's license status?

A: It may! The Registry of Motor Vehicles is committed to the safety of the public. There are a few conditions that automatically disqualify a person from holding a driver's license. They are:

1.  Legal blindness

2.  Class IV heart disease as defined by the American Heart Association

3.  Oxygen Saturation Rate of 88% or less at rest or with minimal exertion.

For all other conditions, the Registry relies on the medical professional who completes your application to comment on your medical or physical ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. The medical professional may advise the Registry of Motor Vehicles that you should take a competency road test; if so our Medical Affairs will contact you.

For more detailed information, see the Disabled Parking section.

 

Q: What is the white plastic covering seen on the Placard?

A: A white Security Sleeve is issued with each placard. The Security Sleeve is designed to fit over your picture on the placard if you wish to conceal your photo and/or your name. You are not required to use the sleeve. It is your choice. The sleeve is removable and you must remove it if requested to do so by law enforcement. To use the sleeve:

          Place Placard between thumb and index finger

          Gently squeeze Placard so that the bottom end slightly curls

          Slip sleeve over the end of the Placard and wiggle it up to cover picture and name

 

Q: Can I have a Disability (HP) Plate and a Disability (HP) Placard?

A: Yes. The Registry is phasing out the Disability (HP) Plate because it is considerably less convenient than the Disabled Placard for most customers. However, if you have a Disability (HP) Plate and need disabled parking while your vehicle is not available (e.g., when you are using a rental car), then a Temporary Placard can be issued. Temporary is defined as two to twenty-four months. You will need to request the Temporary Placard from Medical Affairs in writing with the reason for the request. You may send a letter which includes your name, date of birth, and current address. Social Security Number is preferred but not required for the request. Or, you may download and complete the Application for Temporary Placard for Holders of Disability Plates. For more information, see the Disabled Parking, Permanent Placards and Temporary Placards sections. 

 

Q: Is there an HP motorcycle plate available in Massachusetts?

A: Yes, you must apply as you would for the Disabled Placard. Simply check that you are requesting the HP Motorcycle plate on the application. If you have already been approved for Permanent Disabled parking you may request the plate in writing without further medical information. Please note: Disability (HP) Plates are only issued to persons with a permanent disability as certified by your medical professional. For more detailed information, please see the Disabled Parking  section.

 

Q: How do I get a Disabled Veteran Plate?

A: The Disabled Veteran Plate is available for disabled veterans whose service-connected disability otherwise qualifies them for disabled parking and is at least 60% service-connected as certified by the Veterans Administration. An applicant must complete the Application for Disabled Parking and submit the Disabled Veteran (DV) Plate letter issued by the Veterans Administration showing that the disability that qualifies the applicant for disabled parking is, at least, 60% service-connected. Applications should be submitted to the Medical Affairs. For more detailed information, see the Disabled Veteran Plate section.

 

Q: What benefits are associated with the Disabled Veteran (DV) Plate?

A: Customers who apply and qualify for a DV Plate are eligible:

1.  To obtain a Driver's License for no fee

2.  To register the Disabled Veteran (DV) Plate for no fee

3.  To pay no Sales Tax on the vehicle registered to the Disabled Veteran (DV) Plate holder if the vehicle was purchased on or after November 1, 2006 for non-commercial purposes

4.  For an Excise Tax exemption on the vehicle described above

 

Q: What must I do if I require special equipment to drive?
A: Special equipment might be required on a motor vehicle to compensate for certain disabilities a customer may have.  Information on special requirements will be provided by the Medical Affairs.  A physician's letter may be required for medical clearances or special equipment. In some instances, adaptive driving equipment may be necessary to allow a customer to drive.  Adaptive driving specialists may be able to help.  Customers should check their local listings for schools that specialize in adaptive equipment.  Interested customers should talk with their physicians about any physical limitations that may affect their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.  If adaptive equipment is necessary, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may require a competency road test to assess for the safe use of the equipment.

 

Mature Driver FAQs:

 

Q: Is there a certain age at which I have to be retested at the Registry of Motor Vehicles?

A: No. (With an exception to in-house license renewal/vision screening for persons aged 75 and over- see below). The Medical Affairs Board sets its driver's license policies without regard to age and therefore has no policies based on age alone. Licensing standards are based on a person's functional ability. If you have a concern about the functional ability of an elder driver, please refer to the Medical Affairs Policy and Concerned Citizens sections.

 

Q: Do I have to take the vision test at the Registry of Motor Vehicles?

A: A first-time license applicant and customer renewing his/her license at an RMV Service Center has to pass a vision screening that checks visual acuity and peripheral vision. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will also accept a completed Vision Screening Certificate instead of the screening test. The certificate must be completed by your physician or optometrist who is licensed in Massachusetts. In addition, operators 75 years of age or older must renew in person at an RMV Service Center or American Automobile Association location. The operator must either pass a vision test or present a completed Vision Screening Certificate. 

 

Q: When is it time to stop driving?

A: The ability to drive is determined by one's physical and mental ability. Most experts agree that it is not necessarily one's age that determines if a customer is safe to operate, but one's cognitive and physical ability. Listen to your medical professional, family, and friends. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will accept a personal request in writing for a Competency Driving Test from a licensee (a negative outcome of this test may affect your license status). Or you may wish to have your driving assessed through a private, professional driving school. The American Association of Retired Persons and American Automobile Association have courses for drivers to become reacquainted with the rules of the road. To assist you in assessing your own driving, here is a list of the warning signs of unsafe driving. For more information about how to voluntarily give up your license, see the Voluntary Surrender section.

 

Q: How do I get a Disability (HP) Placard or Disability (HP) Plate?

A: The Disabled Parking section describes this process.

 

Q: I am interested in adaptive equipment. Where do I start?

A: In some instances, adaptive driving equipment may be necessary to allow a person to drive. Adaptive driving specialists may be able to help. Talk with your physician about any physical limitations you may have that may affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. If adaptive equipment is necessary, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may require a Competency Road Exam to assess for the safe use of the equipment. For more information, see the Competency Road Tests section.

 

Q: Do I need to report my medical condition to the Registry of Motor Vehicles?

A: Yes. A person is legally responsible for their actions behind the wheel. There are no mandatory reporting laws for physicians to report persons who may be unsafe to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Massachusetts is a self-reporting state. That means it is your responsibility to report any medical condition that may affect your ability to drive.

 

Q: Are there places that offer driving evaluations?

A: Yes. The American Association of Retired Persons and American Automobile Association offer courses that review good driving habits and the rules of the road. A professional driving school may be helpful in determining if you should seek additional training or to stop driving. If a clinical assessment is needed, many hospitals and rehabilitation centers offer driving evaluations. Here is a brochure listing driving evaluation programs in Massachusetts.

 

Q: What are the most common crashes for elder drivers?

A: Intersections prove to be the most dangerous for elder drivers. In particular, statistics show the two most common reasons for collisions are:

1.  Failure to yield the right of way

2.  Left-hand turns (trying to turn left against on-coming traffic).

These situations result in a significant number of collisions for elder drivers.

 

Q: I am 75 years old and my license is up for renewal. Can I renew online?

A: No, the Safe Driver Law requires all operators 75 years of age or older to renew a driver’s license in-person at an RMV Service Center or American Automobile Association location. You must either pass a vision test or present a completed Vision Screening Certificate. For more information, see the Drivers Age 75 and Older section.

 

 

Caregiver FAQs

 

Q: What should I do if my family member is showing signs of unsafe driving?

A: For some mature drivers, the transition from driver to passenger occurs easily. For others, giving up the keys may be a very difficult decision to make. The American Association of Retired Persons suggests steps one should take when a family member shows signs of unsafe driving. In some cases a driving evaluation, conducted at a hospital or rehabilitation center, may prove beneficial in determining if your family member is safe to operate. Click here for a list of organizations that offer driving evaluations.

 

Q: How do I bring up the subject of surrendering the keys?

A: According to the American Association of Retired Persons, the first conversations about safety should occur long before driving becomes a problem. See Family Conversations for helpful tips.

 

Q: Can I report an unsafe driver to the Registry of Motor Vehicles?

A: Yes. The Registry of Motor Vehicles Medical Affairs accepts reports from: family members, physicians, law enforcement, or other interested third parties, including, but not limited to, members of the driver's community (such as neighbors), private driving schools, physical therapists, etc. You may use the Request for Medical Evaluation form to serve as this report. For more detailed information, see the Concerned Citizens section.

 

Q: How do I report an unsafe driver to the Registry of Motor Vehicles?

A: If an interested party chooses to report a possible unfit driver to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the report must be in writing and must be signed by the person making the report. The report must contain the name and address or name and telephone number of the complaining party. The report must contain identification of the driver whose driving ability is being questioned, including the name and at least one of the following: social security number, license, date of birth, and address. In addition, the report must contain the reason for the complaint and/or a description of the purported functional limitation. You may use the Request for Medical Evaluation form to serve as the report. For more detailed information, see the Concerned Citizens section.

 

Q: If I make a complaint, will it be confidential?

A: The Registry of Motor Vehicles will not disclose this information to anyone over the telephone. However, in compliance with the public records law, if we receive a signed request from the person the complaint is about we will provide a copy of the original complaint.