Person with disability

KEY LAWS TO KNOW FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY IN CALIFORNIA

1. Service animals

What is a service animal?

A service animal is one that helps a person with a disability do certain tasks. For example, guide dogs help blind people move around. It is different from an “emotional support animal” or therapy pet (see below).

Where can I bring my service animal?

If you have a disability you can bring your service animal to all areas of public facilities and private businesses where members of the public, program partici­pants, clients, or customers are allowed, including restaurants, hotels, bars, etc. However, a facility can ban service animals if there is a legitimate safety risk.

A facility is allowed to remove a service animal if the animal is out of control. A service animal must have a harness, leash or other tether, unless the handler is unable to use a tether because of a disability or the use of a tether would interfere with the service animal’s ability to safely perform its  work or tasks. In these cases, the service animal must be under the handler’s control through voice commands, hand signals, or other effective means. If a facility bans a service animal, the individual with a disability must still be offered the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises.128 CFR Sec. 36.302(c) See more info here.

Does my landlord need to allow my service animal to live with me?

Yes.2Federal Fair Housing Act

2. Emotional Support Animal

What is an emotional support animal or therapy pet?

A therapy pet is an animal that helps calm a person’s anxiety, depression, or loneliness. They are NOT considered service animals and are not given the same level of protection as service animals.

Where can I bring my emotional support animal?

You can bring your therapy animal to live with you in your apartment,3Fair Housing Act or on a plane, for free.4Air Carrier Access Act, at 14 CFR Part 382 But you must have a letter from a health professional.

3. Parking

If I have a disabled placard, am I exempt from parking restrictions?

Some of them, including:5California Vehicle Code Section 22511.5; also see LADOT “Parking Signs” and DMV website on disabled parking

  • Parking district permit requirements
  • time limits (you can completely ignore these)
  • meters (you don’t have to pay)

You are NOT exempt from:

  • parking rules for red, white, and yellow curbs
  • “No stopping” zones
  • “No parking” zones (where cars can’t ever park)
  • Street sweeping rules

Basically, in addition to parking rights for other drivers, you may park for an unlimited time at:

  • blue curb zone
  • green curb zone
  • meters, for free
  • any residential or merchant permit district
  • any other place that has a time restriction (you can ignore the time restriction)

Is a disabled placard from another state effective in California? Yes, it is treated the same.6Veh Code Sec 22511.5

It is illegal to do any of the following:7California Vehicle Code Sections 1825, 4461, 4463, 21458, 22511.5, 22511.6, 22511.7, 22511.55, 22511.59, and Business and Professions Code Sec. 13660.

  • Lend your placard to another person
  • Use someone else’s placard.
  • Provide false information to obtain a placard or license plates.
  • Alter a placard or placard identification card.

4. Fueling service

Gas stations must refuel a disabled person’s vehicle at self-service rates unless the service facility has only one employee on duty.8DMV website on disabled parking

EXERCISE YOUR RIGHTS

How do I get a disabled placard? See DMV website.

What if a facility is violating my rights? Find a disability lawyer.

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