CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Veterans are eligible for several different license plates through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
One set of plates used to allow disabled veterans to park in handicapped spaces without a placard. However, these ‘DV’ plates as they're called, aren't enough anymore.
For the most part, disabled veterans groups are in favor of the change because disabled veterans who should be parking in handicapped spaces shouldn't have any trouble.
The placard is called the International Symbol of Access (ISA), and you see it everywhere, including every handicapped parking space. And you need one on your vehicle to park in one.
“You have to have the wheelchair emblem on the license plate or a mirror placard,” said David Matson, senior vice commander of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 150.
Before Jan. 1, a DV plate was sufficient. However, DV plates are easier to get than something with an ISA.
“You can get a disabled veteran who has only 10% of a hearing loss,” said Matson.
The new law started as Senate Bill 792. It requires anyone parked in a handicapped space to have an ISA either on the license plate or on a placard hanging from their rear-view mirror.
SB 729 was passed by the legislature last year and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott at the urging of groups such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans.
“I know it can be difficult for people to understand, we want to eliminate all of the confusion,” said Roland D. Luna, Sr, director of the Texas DMV Titles and Registration Division.
While his office hadn’t been flooded with complaints about abuse of DV plates, Luna says that SB 729 passed to keep people who don't need a handicapped space from parking in one.
“The thought process behind creating this piece of legislation was to ensure there was availability of designated parking spaces,” Luna said.
To qualify for an ISA placard or DV plate with an ISA, Veterans need to be recognized as at least 50% disabled, or 40% with partial amputation. The process is started with Texas VTR form 615, which is available on the Texas DMV website.
“That form can be downloaded, it can be printed, and that form can be taken to a disabled veteran's attending physician,” Luna said.
The process is supposed to be easy.
“It's not hard to do,” Matson said. “If you have a doctor that signs off on it, you'll get that plates.”
However, some veterans are reporting problems.
“The lady said (it has to be on) a prescription pad,” said Disabled Veteran Claude Gentsch. “It must be original, it must be signed by the doctor.”
Gentsch is certified as 60% disabled by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. He says he’s called several offices in Austin and feels he has been getting the run-around.
“I can only do whatever they tell me when I go there,” Gentsch said.
Luna says he has no idea why Gentsch was told he needed something on his doctor’s prescription pad and told ‘Veterans in Focus’ that he would reach out to Gentsch directly to try to resolve the issue.