KILLEEN, Texas — At the start of the new year, S.B. 792 went into effect in Texas. The bill is intended to make sure veterans with impaired mobility have more access to handicapped parking.
It does this, however, by requiring veterans to have a doctor certify they are disabled on a Department of Motorized Vehicles form. Veterans who are unaware can find themselves waiting at the DMV for hours only to be told they can't receive new plates or a placard, which features the International Symbol of Access.
Army veteran Daniel Chavez told 6 News he saw several veterans get denied at the DMV last week.
"They were basically turned down and told that the Department of Motor Vehicles, though the new law, could no longer automatically give them a placard to go with their DV (disabled veteran) plates," Chavez said. "They would have to go to a doctors office to obtain their signature on their form."
Chavez, who is a disabled veteran himself, said many veterans may have not been notified and he wanted to let others know what was happening. Chavez was able to renew his ADA placard last year before the new law took effect.
There also appears to be some confusion on what is accepted by the DMV. The new VTR-615 form requires a doctor's signature.
However, according to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 504.201.(d) which the new law cites:
"The initial application for specialty license plates under this section must be accompanied by a written statement from a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in this state or in a state adjacent to this state or who is authorized by applicable law to practice medicine in a hospital or other health facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
6 News contacted the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System on Monday to find out what information is required and how the VA can accommodate that. A spokesman told 6 News he is still waiting for clarification from the DMV on whether a written statement from a physician can be used in place of a signature or not.
Chavez told 6 News the DMV should not be requiring either because veterans already get official documentation from the VA updating their disability status every year.
"In order to honor the service and sacrifices of our military veterans here in Texas...I don't believe we should doubt the Veteran's Affairs official documentation that already has been evaluated by specialists and doctors," Chavez said.
S.B. 792 was sponsored by authored by Texas Sen. Senator Donna Campbell(R) and Rep. Philip Cortez(D).
Chavez told 6 News veterans should contact their representatives and ask for the law to be reversed.
"I want people to know about it and write to their senators and representatives and ask 'why did the law change?'" Chavez said.