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Handicap van parking law reviewed

With much appreciated help from the Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD), I would like to revisit the issue of handicap van accessible parking spots. You may recall an earlier article regarding an individual who received a ticket for parking his car in a handicap van parking spot. I do not want people to get confused and think that a handicap "van accessible" parking spot is for vans only. I am not aware of any such restriction under Minnesota law.

First, I want to point out that in the statute I quoted, it said that parking privileges allowed by use of handicap plates or certificates does not apply in parking spaces reserved for specified purposes or vehicles. I then went on to say that if you parked in a spot identified as for handicap vans you could have been in violation of the law.

What I should have said is that if you were parked in a spot designated for "handicap vans only" then you could have been in violation.

Accessibility Specialist Margot Imdieke at the MSCOD pointed out that "spaces reserved for specified purposes or vehicles" are most often pertaining to a handicap parking spot meant for specific individuals such as employees of the business, or residents of the housing complex. People visiting would not be allowed to park in these spots even if they have a handicap certificate. I must admit that I do hope the business or housing complex would also put a sign indicating the restriction.

Second, I feel it necessary to pass on some information from Margot that may help explain where some of the confusion may stem from.

Information regarding van accessible parking spaces is contained in the Minnesota Building Code, chapter 1341. Historically, two types of disability parking spaces were specified, one space with a five-foot access aisle and one with an eight-foot access aisle. The disability parking space with the eight-foot access aisle was required to be identified by a permanently posted sign as "van accessible."

Many individuals with disabilities drive a lift-equipped van and need more space to egress their vehicle. The signage was a courtesy only and provided so that a van driver knew that they were in the wider space.

In July 2007 the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry amended the code so that all "new" disability parking spaces must have an eight-foot access aisle. In parking lots with 25 or fewer total spaces the code only requires one disability parking space and it is required to be van accessible.

There are many small parking lots throughout Minnesota that have only one handicap parking spot and they are marked "van accessible" so if this were to mean only vans can park there it would prohibit thousands of individuals with disabilities from utilizing those spaces.

I want to thank Margot and the MSCOD for their help and information with this subject, and then point out one more time that I am not aware of any law in Minnesota that restricts handicap "van accessible" parking spots to vans only.

Also, neither Minnesota statute nor Minnesota Building Code has provisions that allow or require a "van only" type sign.

Parents, don't just hand over the keys to your new driver. Please take the time to ride with them and let them gain experience before allowing them to face the dangers of a public road on their own.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. Or reach me at