(1)(a) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or its authorized agents shall, upon application and receipt of the fee, issue a disabled parking permit for a period of up to 4 years, which period ends on the applicant’s birthday, to any person who has long-term mobility impairment, or a temporary disabled parking permit not to exceed 6 months to any person who has a temporary mobility impairment. No person will be required to pay a fee for a parking permit for disabled persons more than once in a 12-month period from the date of the prior fee payment.
(b)1. The person must be currently certified as being legally blind or as having any of the following disabilities that render him or her unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest:
a. Inability to walk without the use of or assistance from a brace, cane, crutch, prosthetic device, or other assistive device, or without the assistance of another person. If the assistive device significantly restores the person’s ability to walk to the extent that the person can walk without severe limitation, the person is not eligible for the exemption parking permit.
b. The need to permanently use a wheelchair.
c. Restriction by lung disease to the extent that the person’s forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for 1 second, when measured by spirometry, is less than 1 liter, or the person’s arterial oxygen is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
d. Use of portable oxygen.
e. Restriction by cardiac condition to the extent that the person’s functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to standards set by the American Heart Association.
f. Severe limitation in the person’s ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
2. The certification of disability which is required under subparagraph 1. must be provided by a physician licensed under chapter 458, chapter 459, or chapter 460, by a podiatric physician licensed under chapter 461, by an optometrist licensed under chapter 463, by an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter 464 under the protocol of a licensed physician as stated in this subparagraph, by a physician assistant licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, or by a similarly licensed physician from another state if the application is accompanied by documentation of the physician’s licensure in the other state and a form signed by the out-of-state physician verifying his or her knowledge of this state’s eligibility guidelines.
(c) The certificate of disability must include, but need not be limited to:
1. The disability of the applicant; the certifying practitioner’s name and address; the practitioner’s certification number; the eligibility criteria for the permit; the penalty for falsification by either the certifying practitioner or the applicant; the duration of the condition that entitles the person to the permit; and justification for the additional placard pursuant to subsection (2).
2. The statement, in bold letters: “A disabled parking permit may be issued only for a medical necessity that severely affects mobility.”
3. The signatures of:
a. The applicant’s physician or other certifying practitioner.
b. The applicant or the applicant’s parent or guardian.
c. The employee of the department’s authorized agent which employee is processing the application.
(d) The department shall renew the disabled parking permit of any person certified as permanently disabled on the application if the person provides a certificate of disability issued within the last 12 months pursuant to this subsection. A veteran who has been previously evaluated and certified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or any branch of the United States Armed Forces as permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability may provide a United States Department of Veterans Affairs Form Letter 27-333, or its equivalent, issued within the last 12 months in lieu of a certificate of disability.
(e) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall, in consultation with the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, adopt rules, in accordance with chapter 120, for the issuance of a disabled parking permit to any organization that can adequately demonstrate a bona fide need for such a permit because the organization provides regular transportation services to persons who have disabilities and are certified as provided in this subsection.
(2) DISABLED PARKING PERMIT; PERSONS WITH LONG-TERM MOBILITY PROBLEMS.–
(a) The disabled parking permit is a placard that can be placed in a motor vehicle so as to be visible from the front and rear of the vehicle. Each side of the placard must have the international symbol of accessibility in a contrasting color in the center so as to be visible. One side of the placard must display the applicant’s driver license number or state identification card number along with a warning that the applicant must have such identification at all times while using the parking permit. In those cases where the severity of the disability prevents a disabled person from physically visiting or being transported to a driver license or tax collector office to obtain a driver license or identification card, a certifying physician may sign the exemption section of the department’s parking permit application to exempt the disabled person from being issued a driver license or identification card for the number to be displayed on the parking permit. A validation sticker must also be issued with each disabled parking permit, showing the month and year of expiration on each side of the placard. Validation stickers must be of the size specified by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and must be affixed to the disabled parking permits. The disabled parking permits must use the same colors as license plate validations.
(b) License plates issued under ss. 320.084, 320.0842, 320.0843, and 320.0845 are valid for the same parking privileges and other privileges provided under ss. 316.1955, 316.1964, and 526.141(5)(a).
(c) The department shall not issue an additional disabled parking permit unless the applicant states that he or she is a frequent traveler or a quadriplegic. The department may not issue to any one eligible applicant more than two disabled parking permits except to an organization in accordance with paragraph (1)(e). Subsections (1), (5), (6), and (7) apply to this subsection.
(d) To obtain a replacement for a disabled parking permit that has been lost or stolen, a person must submit an application on a form prescribed by the department, provide a certificate of disability issued within the last 12 months pursuant to subsection (1), and pay a replacement fee in the amount of $1, to be retained by the issuing agency. If the person submits with the application a police report documenting that the permit was stolen, there is no replacement fee. A veteran who has been previously evaluated and certified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or any branch of the United States Armed Forces as permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability may provide a United States Department of Veterans Affairs Form Letter 27-333, or its equivalent, issued within the last 12 months in lieu of a certificate of disability.
(e) A person who qualifies for a disabled parking permit under this section may be issued an international wheelchair user symbol license plate under s. 320.0843 in lieu of the disabled parking permit; or, if the person qualifies for a “DV” license plate under s. 320.084, such a license plate may be issued to him or her in lieu of a disabled parking permit.
(3) DISABLED PARKING PERMIT; TEMPORARY.–
(a) The temporary disabled parking permit is a placard of a different color from the color of the long-term disabled parking permit placard, and must clearly display the date of expiration in large print and with color coding, but is identical to the long-term disabled parking permit placard in all other respects, including, but not limited to, the inclusion of a state identification card number or driver license number on one side of the temporary permit. The temporary disabled parking permit placard must be designed to conspicuously display the expiration date of the permit on the front and back of the placard.
(b) The department shall issue the temporary disabled parking permit for the period of the disability as stated by the certifying physician, but not to exceed 6 months.
(c) The fee for a temporary disabled parking permit is $15.
(4) From the proceeds of the temporary disabled parking permit fees:
(a) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles must receive $3.50 for each temporary permit, to be deposited into the Highway Safety Operating Trust Fund and used for implementing the real-time disabled parking permit database and for administering the disabled parking permit program.
(b) The tax collector, for processing, must receive $2.50 for each temporary permit.
(c) The remainder must be distributed monthly as follows:
1. To the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, known as “The Able Trust,” for the purpose of improving employment and training opportunities for persons who have disabilities, with special emphasis on removing transportation barriers, $4. These fees must be directly deposited into the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation as established in s. 413.615.
2. To the Transportation Disadvantaged Trust Fund to be used for funding matching grants to counties for the purpose of improving transportation of persons who have disabilities, $5.
(5) The applications for disabled parking permits and temporary disabled parking permits are official state documents. The following statement must appear on each application form immediately below the physician’s signature and immediately below the applicant’s signature: “Knowingly providing false information on this application is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, Florida Statutes, or s. 775.083, Florida Statutes. The penalty is up to 1 year in jail or a fine of $1,000, or both.”
(6) Any person who knowingly makes a false or misleading statement in an application or certification under this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(7) Any person who fraudulently obtains or unlawfully displays a disabled parking permit that belongs to another person while occupying a disabled parking space or an access aisle as defined in s. 553.5041 while the owner of the permit is not being transported in the vehicle or who uses an unauthorized replica of such a disabled parking permit with the intent to deceive is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(8) A law enforcement officer or a parking enforcement specialist may confiscate the disabled parking permit from any person who fraudulently obtains or unlawfully uses such a permit. A law enforcement officer or a parking enforcement specialist may confiscate any disabled parking permit that is expired, reported as lost or stolen, or defaced or that does not display a personal identification number.
(a) The permit number of each confiscated permit must be submitted to the department, and the fact that the permit has been confiscated must be noted on the permitholder’s record. If two permits issued to the same person have been confiscated, the department shall refer the information to the central abuse hotline of the Department of Children and Families for an investigation of potential abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the permit owner.
(b) A confiscated permit must be held as evidence until a judicial decision about the violation has been made. After a finding of guilt has been made or a plea of nolo contendere has been entered, the charging agency shall destroy the confiscated permit. A confiscated permit may not, under any circumstances, be returned to its registered owner after a finding of guilt has been made or a plea of nolo contendere has been entered in court. If a finding of guilt has been made or a plea of nolo contendere has been entered for fraudulent or other unlawful use of a disabled parking permit after a prior finding of guilt or plea of nolo contendere for fraudulent or other unlawful use of a disabled parking permit issued to the same registered permitholder, the permitholder may not apply for a new disabled parking permit for 4 years. The permit number of each destroyed permit must be reported to the department, and the department must record in the real-time disabled parking permit database that the permit has been invalidated.
(9)(a) At least once every 6 months, the department shall randomly review disabled parking permitholders to ensure that all required criteria for the ownership and possession of such permit remain valid. As a component of the review, the department shall, at a minimum:
1. Review death records maintained by the Department of Health to ensure that the permitholder has not died.
2. Review the number of times the permit has been confiscated for fraudulent or unlawful use, if at all.
3. Determine if the permit has ever been reported lost or stolen and, if so, determine the current status of the permit.
(b) At least annually, the department shall verify that the owner of each disabled parking permit has not died. Such verification shall include, but need not be limited to, consultation of death records maintained by the Department of Health. If a disabled parking permitholder is found to be deceased, the department shall promptly invalidate the decedent’s disabled parking permit.
(10) The department shall develop and implement a means by which persons can report abuse of disabled parking permits by telephone hotline or by submitting a form online or by mail.