06/10/2013 01:06 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2013

Misconceptions About the Blue Placard

Scenario: I'm riding as a passenger in a friend, acquaintance, or coworker's car. We reach the destination; I pull out my blue handicapped parking placard and say something like "there will probably be some open blue spots near the entrance." Then they wave it off with an "Oh, no thanks, I'm fine."

This happens a lot, and it baffles me. I wonder, did they think I was trying to do them a favor? I'm not exactly waving it in their face and saying, "Hey, easy parking for you! You're welcome!!" I have the blue placard because I need it -- because I am disabled.

Perhaps they're nervous about hanging something that's not theirs in their car. Perhaps they -- and many others, I assume -- are not familiar with the law. According to the DMV of California website, it is illegal for me to lend, counterfeit, or alter the placard at all. However, as long as I'm in a car, the placard can be used. It doesn't have to be my car -- I don't even have to be the one driving it!

I went through a lot of paperwork to obtain this placard. Let me tell you -- the DMV does not make it easy to get one! I had to find the paperwork online, schedule an appointment with my doctor to get her to sign off on it, and then schedule an appointment at the DMV. Let me stress again: I need the placard. This is not about convenience -- mine or anyone else's. This is about me being able to live my life as "normal" as possible by going to the store, a concert or game, etc. without wasting all my energy walking across a huge parking lot.

I understand that my friends have good intentions. I'm offering something that is convenient to them, and they don't want to take advantage of the offer -- or worse, of my disability. However, more than once I've had to clarify by saying like, "Actually, please take it and park in a blue spot. I most likely will not be able to walk from whatever open parking spot you happen to find once we get there."

Remember: If you're ever in the driver's seat and someone offers you the use of their blue placard, just use it. It's not illegal or immoral to use it, and your friend has it for a good reason. And if you have one of your own, don't be afraid to educate your friends about the placard laws, and speak up when you need to use it!

For more by Lia Seth, click here.

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