Disabled Parking and Oxygen Use - Understand the Rules

There are an estimated 1.5 million supplemental oxygen users in the U.S. If you're a caregiver for someone who requires supplemental oxygen, you may qualify for a disabled parking permit. The rules can vary depending on where you live.

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Disabled Parking and Oxygen Use - Understand the Rules
3 Min Read September 27th, 2022

Long-term oxygen therapy increases the life span of an individual with breathing and lung illnesses and becomes essential for their overall health. It elevates the quality of their life, but it becomes part of their life that can bring challenges for the individual, caregivers, and family.

Getting around can become more difficult because of the equipment necessary for supplemental oxygen. Traveling in a car becomes a chore that needs some adjusting. Disabled parking permits may be necessary for the caregiver traveling with the person on oxygen.

People who require supplemental oxygen throughout their daily lives and caregivers of people on supplemental oxygen frequently qualify for disabled parking. If you or someone you love is in one of these situations, you should know more about the available parking options. 

You Need Proof

Disabled parking is an excellent accommodation for people who need it, and your state doesn't want people who don't need it to take advantage of this accommodation. That's why you'll need proof that you or the person you care for is on supplemental oxygen. The physician who prescribed the oxygen therapy or oversees the care of the person on oxygen therapy can provide the parking applicant with adequate proof that the person needs parking accommodation.

For caregivers, you'll need this proof and proof that you're the oxygen user's caregiver. Once you've gathered and submitted your evidence, the DMV should accept your application and give you your parking pass. 

Applying for this pass is a great option for families with children who use oxygen therapy and families who take care of elderly or other incapacitated family members.

You Can't Use Oxygen and Drive

In most cases, the use of oxygen therapy while driving is disqualifying. States have several concerns, including oxygen equipment malfunction, risk of explosion, and the presence of significant underlying disease that is disqualifying, such as pulmonary hypertension. 

Generally, the driver must be able to pass a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). However, the need for supplemental oxygen to function will disqualify you on your driver's test. However, if your doctor provides evidence that you can maintain a high oxygen saturation level while driving, they may allow you to drive.

Check with your state DMV when applying for your driver's license while using supplemental oxygen. If you obtain your license, you may have to apply separately for the disabled parking pass, or you may disqualify from receiving the parking pass. This is because officials may believe that since you're healthy enough to maintain the vehicle, you don't need extra accommodations. 

However, lung or pulmonary disorders like asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and COPD often qualify for a disabled parking permit. Breathing and lung problems make it extremely challenging for individuals to walk long distances. The required use of portable oxygen can result in difficulties while trying to get around and increase someone's need for handicapped parking. 

Plus, the individual on oxygen may have other health or age-related problems that would qualify them for disabled parking permits. Your doctor will usually understand state guidelines.

Safety Comes First

Once you obtain your disabled parking permit, you must prioritize your safety and the safety of others. Never leave an oxygen tank in a parked vehicle since the temperature changes could damage it. You also risk an external factor causing the tank to fall, creating catastrophic damage. Always bring your oxygen tank inside with you or use a portable oxygen concentrator.

There's a lot to know about disabled parking and oxygen therapy, but knowing what proof you need, how your health can affect your driving potential, and safety precautions are the most important. If you or a loved one needs a disabled parking pass due to supplemental oxygen needs, your doctor and local DMV should help you get the accommodation you need.

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About the Author

Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.

LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee

Mallory Knee

Contributor since September 25th, 2020

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