No matter a vehicle’s make, model, year, or condition, all vehicles across the United States have one thing in common: vehicle registration. While each state has its own unique set of rules, generally speaking vehicle registration can be summed up as the annual issuance of a license plate or plates, or a validation sticker for license plates to indicate the registration is still valid.
When it comes to vehicle registration for individuals with disabilities, most states offer registration and renewal discounts. However, not all states allow for these discounts. One such state being the state of Michigan.
Recently one Michigan lawmaker set forth to revise Michigan state law to expand the criteria for vehicles eligible to receive registration discounts on specialty plates.
Let’s Start with a Little Background on Vehicle Registration
All states require vehicles to have either one or two license plates. In states like California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and our home state of Minnesota, for example, the state requires both a front and rear license plate. In states like Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and a handful of others, only one rear plate is required for vehicle registration. In most states a yearly fee is applied to keep a vehicle’s plate(s) registration current and proof of payment is provided in the form of a sticker that is placed on the plate(s), or more commonly referred to as tabs.
In some states, like Minnesota, when you sell your vehicle the license plate(s) stay with the vehicle. While in other states, the license plate(s) stay with the person and can be applied to a new vehicle once it has been registered. If you live in a state where the plate(s) stay with the vehicle, switching vehicles more often can become much more costly in registration fees.
Michigan State Law for Vehicle Registration
In recent years, the Michigan state law has allowed for a fifty percent discount on annual vehicle registration for specialty plates on vans owned by or transporting a wheelchair user. This generally accounted for both vans with ramps and those with wheelchair lifts.
However, this did not apply to other vehicles utilized for transporting a wheelchair user. For example, this did not account for SUVs converted with rear access ramps or vehicles that were converted with only transfer seats and hand controls, and it also did not account for non-converted vehicles that caregivers may have used to transport wheelchair users. This meant that many of the vehicles wheelchair users in the state of Michigan were using to get around were not eligible for the registration discount.
How this Differs from Other States
As we mentioned before, each state has its own unique set of rules when it comes to vehicle registration. This is also true for the fees, process, and criteria you need to meet for obtaining disability license plates. Some examples of the differences from state to state include the fee waiver for disabled veteran plates in California, discounts for retired veterans in the state of Pennsylvania, or the ability to obtain motorcycle disability plates in the state of Maryland. The list of differences goes on and on, and would take far too long to list, so let’s take a closer look at just one state and how it differs from Michigan’s state laws.
Our Local Minnesota State Law
In Minnesota, disability license plates can be used on any make or model of vehicle, as long as the applicant fills out the required forms. This includes the application for special plates with a medical certification from a licensed physician, a physician’s assistant, an advanced practice registered nurse, or a chiropractor. Additionally, if the disability plates are going to be the disabled veterans plates, a VA certification form also needs to be included.
The fees that need to be paid along with the application are six dollars for two plates or four dollars and fifty cents for one plate, plus a ten dollar filing fee. In Minnesota there is no yearly renewal for disability license plates and the plates are valid the entire time the vehicle is in being utilized by the applicant(s).
This structure differs greatly from the Michigan state laws for specialty plates. And, these differences make it that much more important to know the laws for specialty plates in your state or any state where you may end up living in the future.
Good News on the Horizon: the Revision to Michigan State Law
As we mentioned earlier, one Michigan lawmaker recently set out to change the rules for applicants eligible to receive disability license plates. That lawmaker is Senator Kenneth Horn, and he set forth to revise the law to include any make or model of vehicle with permanently-installed wheelchair lifts or ramps, and also vehicles that have been adapted with hand controls that replace a driver’s usual foot pedals.
This revision was first brought to the Senate in March 2018 and was passed with a 37 to 0 vote. It was then also passed by the House with a 109 to 0 vote. This revision was signed into law just last month on May 15, 2018, by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
What this Means for Wheelchair Van Drivers
So, you may be asking what this means for you or what this means for those individuals driving handicap vans? This means that one state that was previously restrictive towards drivers with disabilities has become more receptive to the needs of each individual and how those needs do not always fit a standard mold. This means our customers and their friends in Michigan will have an easier time and less of a financial burden when it comes to applying for specialty plates. It could also mean that we’re getting closer to an age where disability benefits become standard across the United States.
No matter the meaning, our team at Rollx Vans is excited to see change happening for our customers living in the state of Michigan and look forward to seeing more positive changes in the future.