Ask Laz: Is it OK to use an out-of-state disabled parking placard in California?

Be careful: California has its own rules when it comes to out-of-state disabled placards.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For the Los Angeles Times)

James was recently issued a disabled parking placard for his car in Nevada.

“I visit California often,” he says. “Someone told me that I can park at a meter and not pay. Is this correct?”

Put another way, do out-of-state disabled placards work in California?


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Before I answer that, allow me to first get a mini-rant off my chest. It’s pretty obvious that many people abuse disabled placards, which is both incredibly selfish and stupendously inconsiderate.

There are nearly 2.5 million disabled placards in California. That’s about one in every 10 drivers.

I think we’ve all had experience with seeing fit-looking people getting into or out of cars parked in spaces for the disabled. I always wonder what they’re thinking. Are they smugly pleased that they’re beating the system? Do they feel entitled to special treatment?

For the record, misuse or abuse of placards is a misdemeanor in California, punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in county jail for up to six months.

The general rule for disabled placards is that they’re valid in all states. But California requires that disabled visitors apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a so-called travel placard. It’s good for 90 days.

It will allow you to park free of charge at meters.

For what it’s worth, Nevada has no problem with California-issued placards.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.