Can a Paraplegic Get a Driver’s License?

August 15, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

Before we begin, it’s important that we clear up some terminology: namely, the difference between paraplegic and quadriplegic. We have a whole blog article on this, but the easiest way to remember is via the prefix. Para- refers to “two” of something, while quad- refers to “four” of something. When you’re paraplegic, you have two limbs (your legs) that are paralyzed; quadriplegics have paralysis in all four limbs.

OK, so now we know we’re talking about folks who can’t use their legs. And since cars rely on pedals for braking and acceleration, the absence of feeling there is a problem. So can a paraplegic get a driver’s license?

  • Yes, actually

And we’ll get to that in a moment. But before you even think of getting a license, there’s a ton of work that has to be done.

  • What do you mean?

Well, a paraplegic driver obviously can’t use most automobiles as they’re constructed. The vehicle will have to be customized and outfitted with hand controls, so that a paraplegic driver may operate it.

  • And how do I do that?

There are various companies that sell and install hand controls and other disabled driving modifications. You may be able to purchase such a car from a dealer, but it’s probably cheaper and easier to modify an existing car. The hand controls should be installed by a professional.

  • Then what?

Then you have to visit a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. These folks specialize in getting disabled folks behind the wheel, and will help you learn to control your modified vehicle. (see a list of California specialists here) They’ll also perform an evaluation of your abilities and mental state, to ensure you’re fit to handle an automobile.

  • And then I get my license?

Almost. Now you have to take the driving test. You’ll be allowed to use your modified vehicle, but you’ll still have to prove you can follow the rules of the road!

  • And if I pass?

Then yes, you finally get your license. Drive carefully!

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