Colors on handicap placards have meaning

Would you please explain the disabled signs posted in the parking lots? The colors are confusing.

— Katherine H., Medford


Being disabled isn't always so black-and-white, Katherine, so in Oregon you'll find something of a spectrum of colors on the signs and permits for disabled persons' parking spaces.

In Oregon, you can find dark blue, red or light blue parking permits hanging on a rear-view mirror, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation website. 

Light blue placards are only for wheelchair users only. A light blue permit will allow parking in any space reserved for disabled people, including van-accessible spaces indicated by a light blue and green "wheelchair user only" sign. Permits may be issued to drivers with disabilities or groups that transport people with disabilities, according to the DMV driver handbook.

Dark blue and red permits match the dark blue ADA signs, and are for people with other mobility disabilities, according to ODOT. Dark blue permits are renewable, while red ones are temporary permits. Those permits allow parking in any space reserved for disabled people, except for "wheelchair user only" spaces.

There's no fee to get a disabled person parking permit, according to ODOT, but all permits require a valid Oregon ID, and an approved application signed by a doctor certifying that there's a need for a permit.

Disabled permits from other states are valid in Oregon, but folks moving out of the Beaver State must return their Oregon permit to the Department of Motor Vehicles and register with their new home state.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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