Under NRS 484B.467, only disabled people with valid and current handicap plates or placards may park in designated handicap spaces in Nevada. Unlawfully parking in a handicap spot is a criminal misdemeanor or a civil infraction depending on where the incident occurred. Either way, a first-time offense carries a minimum fine of $250.
Non-disabled drivers may park in handicap spots only if 1) the vehicle has valid handicap plates or placards, and 2) they are transporting or picking up a handicapped passenger. People who wrongfully use other people’s handicap plates or placards to park in a disabled space can be cited for a misdemeanor.
In this article, our Las Vegas traffic ticket attorneys will discuss:
- 1. Who can park in a handicap space in Nevada?
- 2. Can I fight the ticket?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can I get the charge dismissed?
- 5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
- 6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
- 7. Do I have to do traffic school?
- 8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
- 9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
- 10. What will happen to my out-of-state driver’s license?
- 11. When can I seal my case?
- 12. Should I fight my ticket or just pay the fine?
- 13. Can I go to trial?
- 14. Do I need an attorney?
- 15. Other parking offenses
1. Who can park in a disabled spot in Nevada?
Handicapped people may park in designated handicap parking spots only if their vehicle displays a valid and current disabled license plate, placard or sticker. It makes no difference whether the property is publicly or privately owned.
“Handicapped” people include the following:
- a person with a permanent disability,
- a person with a disability of moderate duration or temporary disability (such as a broken leg), or
- a veteran with a disability
Note that a non-handicapped driver of a vehicle with proper disability signage may park in a handicap spot only if the driver is transporting or picking up a handicapped person.
Also note that Nevada recognizes out-of-state handicap placards and plates. But once a person becomes a Nevada resident, he/she will need a Nevada DMV-issued handicap placard or plate along with an authorization letter to be kept in the vehicle at all times.1
Finally, note that disability plates and placards are non-transferable. In other words, people who own disability plates or placards may not allow other people to use them. If they do, the placard owners as well as the people who wrongfully used them face misdemeanor charges.2
1.1. Demarcation of handicap spots
Handicapped parking spaces must have signs that meet these three requirements:
- The sign bears the international symbol of access with or without the words “Parking,” “Handicapped Parking,” “Handicapped Parking Only” or “Reserved for the Handicapped,” or any other word or combination of words indicating that the space is designated for persons who are handicapped;
- The sign states, “Minimum fine of $250 for use by others” or equivalent words; and
- The bottom of the sign is not less than four (4) feet above the ground.
1.2. Side-loading wheelchair lifts or ramps
A vehicle must meet these three conditions in order to park in a space reserved for the exclusive use of a vehicle with a side-loading wheelchair lift:
- The vehicle is transporting a disabled person;
- The vehicle displays a valid and current special license plate, plates or placard; and
- The vehicle is equipped with a side-loading wheelchair lift.
But if the parking lot has fewer than 60 parking spaces, then any type of vehicle transporting a handicapped person and displaying current and valid disabled signage may park in a spot meant for side-loading vehicles.3
In Las Vegas, most parking tickets are issued by the Parking Enforcement Unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. It is a volunteer force of about 90 people, many of whom are handicapped themselves.
The Henderson Police Department has a dedicated Handicap Parking Patrol made up of 10 volunteers.
In 2010, volunteers issued 3,909 city handicap-parking tickets and 4,648 county handicap-parking tickets.4
1.4. Applying for Handicap plates and placards in Nevada
To access the Nevada DMV application for disability plates or placards, click here. In order to qualify as disabled, a licensed physician or advanced practice registered nurse has to certify an individual’s disability by completing the bottom half of the plate/placard application. The medical worker must find that the applicant suffers from any of the following conditions:
- Inability to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
- Inability to walk without a brace, cane, crutch, wheelchair, or other device, or another person.
- Is restricted by lung disease.
- Use of portable oxygen.
- A cardiac condition to the extent that functional limitations are classified as a Class III or Class IV according to standards adopted by the American Heart Association.
- Visually handicapped.
- Severe limitation in his/her ability to walk because of an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
The physician or nurse is also required to certify whether the applicant’s condition is temporary, moderate, or permanent. This classification determines the type of handicap placard or plate the applicant will get and its expiration date:
- Temporary. People with temporary conditions are entitled to up to two placards or motorcycle stickers. The placards or motorcycle stickers are red and remain valid for up to six (6) months.
- Moderate. People with moderate conditions are entitled to up to two placards or motorcycle stickers. The placards or motorcycle stickers are blue and remain valid for up to two (2) years.
- Permanent. People with permanent disabilities are entitled to one placard with license plates and/or motorcycle decals for all vehicles registered in their name. Alternatively, people with permanent disabilities are entitled to two placards with no plates and/or decals. The plates, stickers or placards are valid for ten (10) years.
Plates are vehicle-specific, whereas placards can be used in any vehicle carrying the disabled individual. Motorcycle stickers must remain affixed to one license plate.
For more information, visit the Nevada DMV Disability Parking page.
2. Can I fight the ticket?
Possible defenses to NRS 484B.467 violations include:
- No signage: If the defendant can show that the parking space lacked proper handicapped signage, the case should be dismissed. It is not uncommon for vandals to tear down signs, or for wind or bad weather to rip signs off.
- Valid plates or placards: If the defendant can produce proof he/she had a valid handicapped tag or sticker (that maybe the police officer missed or was unable to see), then the prosecutor should drop the charge.
- Recent injury: In cases where the defendant was recently injured but did not have time to secure disabled placards, an ethical prosecutor might drop the charge.
Common evidence in these types of cases includes photographs, eyewitness testimony, and possibly medical records.
3. What are the penalties?
The penalties for wrongfully parking in a handicapped space in Nevada increases with each successive conviction:
- A first offense carries a $250 fine;
- A second offense carries a $250 fine and eight to fifty (8 – 50) hours of community service;
- A third or subsequent offense carries a $500 to $1,000 fine and twenty-five to one hundred (25 – 100) hours of community service
Note that it makes no difference if there was plenty of handicapped parking available, or if no disabled drivers needed the space at that time.5
Also note that fines vary depending on the location. Whereas a handicap parking ticket in the City of Las Vegas carries a $250 fine, the same ticket in Henderson carries a $352 fine.6
4. Can I get the charge dismissed?
Possibly, if the defendant can show he/she had handicapped plates, stickers or tags at the time of the citation. It may also be possible to get the case dropped if the defendant can show the parking spot was not properly designated as handicapped.
For parking tickets issued in the City of Las Vegas, there is an “appeals” process where the defendant can argue that the citation was wrongfully issued.7
5. How many points will go on my Nevada driver’s license?
None. Parking in a disabled space carries no Nevada driver’s license demerit point penalties. Only moving violations like surpassing the speed limit carry demerit points.8
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Not usually, but it depends on the person’s insurance policy. Consult with an attorney to discuss the insurance consequences of parking in a disabled spot.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
Judges typically do not require that people ticketed for NRS 484B.467 violations to complete traffic school. Traffic school is usually reserved for people who committed moving violations in Nevada, such as speeding.
8. What will happen if I ignore my ticket?
When a person is charged with a misdemeanor for parking in a handicap spot, the Nevada judge will issue a bench warrant if the person blows off the ticket (after a 30-day grace period). People with an outstanding bench warrant can be arrested at any time and held without bail.
People late on their fine payments will also get a bench warrant if they were given the opportunity to do community service instead, and then failed to do it.
In order to try to get the warrant recalled, the defendant (or better yet, his/her attorney) would need to request a court hearing to fight the warrant. Then the judge would determine whether or not to recall (“quash”) the warrant.
8.1 Las Vegas
Wrongfully parking in a handicap spot in the City of Las Vegas is treated as a civil infraction. Therefore there is no jail, but fines do increase:
If the defendant does not pay the $250 fine after 30 days, it goes up to $50 to $300. After 45 days, it goes up another $50 to $350.
After 90 days of non-payment, the Nevada DMV will suspend the registration on the driver’s car. The DMV will not reinstate the suspension until the fine is paid plus a $15 fee.9
9. What will happen to my Nevada commercial driver’s license?
The Nevada DMV does not penalize people’s commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) for parking in a handicapped spot. In most cases, the DMV treats CDLs and non-commercial driver’s licenses the same way.
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
Every state has its own laws, so non-Nevadans should consult with an attorney in their home state. Chances are, the defendant’s license will be safe from suspension or demerit points.
11. When can I seal my case?
If the defendant gets convicted of a misdemeanor for parking in a handicapped spot, he/she can usually commence the record seal process one (1) year after the case ends. Note that if the defendant succeeds in getting the citation totally dismissed, he/she can petition to clear his/her record right away.10
If the defendant gets slapped with only a parking infraction (which is civil, not criminal), then the case probably will not appear on the person’s background check at all. Then there would be nothing to seal.
12. Should I fight my ticket or just pay the fine?
It depends on the available evidence in the case. If the defendant can show that the spot did not have proper handicap signage or that he/she was disabled, it may be worth fighting the charge.
12.1. Las Vegas
In the City of Las Vegas, defendants who had a valid handicap placard at the time of the citation can fill out and submit this form to Las Vegas Parking Services Office. Once the City sees that the defendant did indeed have the necessary documentation, the infraction should be dropped without having to appeal.
13. Can I go to trial?
Defendants charged with misdemeanors can request a bench trial. It is just like a jury trial except that the judge renders the verdict. But traffic trials are very rare; in most cases, the prosecution and defense can negotiate a deal.11
Defendants charged with an infraction (which is civil, not criminal) are not entitled to a criminal trial. But in the City of Las Vegas, people with infractions may pursue a civil appeal process:
First defendants can undertake a “Level 1 appeal.” If the defendant does not win that appeal, he/she can request a “Level 2 Appeal” with a Hearing Officer.
14. Do I need an attorney?
The safest bet is to consult with an attorney about any criminal charge, no matter how minor. Attorneys are skilled at negotiating favorable plea deals that prosecutors may not extend to unrepresented defendants. Furthermore, attorneys can appear in court in place of the defendant so the defendant never has to miss work.
15. Other parking offenses
- Parking more than 18 inches from the curb
- Illegal stopping (not on highway)
- Illegal stopping on highway
For a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Were you charged with a crime in Nevada? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can help.
- NRS 484B.467; NRS 482.384; Las Vegas Municipal Code 11.52.135; Clark County Code 14.41.010.
- NRS 484B.467; NRS 482.384.
- NRS 484B.467.
- Jan Hoganview, Las Vegas drivers abuse handicap parking laws, Las Vegas Review-Journal (April 12, 2011).
- NRS 484B.467
- See note 4.
- City of Las Vegas Parking FAQ and Fee Schedule.
- See NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510(5)(c).
- Las Vegas Municipal Code 11.10.140.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- Sixth Amendment.