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Owning, Driving and Modifying a Vehicle

Traveling in your community may include owning your own vehicle. Planning the purchase and maintenance is important. You will also need to plan if you need modifications in order to drive the vehicle.

Owning a Vehicle in Utah

When you own a vehicle in Utah you must maintain No-Fault insurance on all passenger cars and trucks throughout the vehicle’s registration period. This is true if you are a Utah resident or use the vehicle in Utah for 90 days of the preceding 365 days. It is your responsibility to carry proof of insurance and present it to any law enforcement officer upon request. Additional information is available from the Division of Motor Vehicles or by calling 1-800-DMV-UTAH (800-368-8824) or by visiting an office near you.

Modifying Your Vehicle

A vehicle modification is any mechanical or structural change to a passenger car, van, or other motor vehicle that lets a person with a disability safely drive, or ride as a passenger. Vehicle modifications also include wheelchair or scooter loaders. There are other ongoing costs of owning a vehicle, such as registration, licensing, insurance, gas and maintenance. For further information or ideas about vehicle modifications, check with the Utah Center for Assistive Technology.

For general information call your local Center for Independent Living or your local Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Office for ideas. The Utah Center for Assistive Technology offers information and referral to respond to requests of more information or about consumer choices.

The costs associated with modifying or purchasing an accessible vehicle may vary greatly. Therefore, look for public and private opportunities for financial assistance. The following resources may help you in your search for funding assistance.

Resources to Pay for a Vehicle or Modifications to Vehicle

  • Save. Saving your own money is the way most people pay for a vehicle. Having savings will also help you qualify for a loan if you want to buy the vehicle.
  • Financing. Local banks, credit unions and dealerships provide opportunities to finance your vehicle with a payment plan, that includes interest.
  • Infintec provides information regarding reimbursement programs for vehicle modification costs, including programs from the car manufacturers, agencies, organizations, etc.
  • Utah Assistive Technology Foundation: A private, non-profit organization that works with Zion's Bank of Utah to provide low-interest loans to purchase assistive technology including vehicles. The UATF also offers small grants of $250 or less on a limited basis through non-federal funding to families who meet federal poverty guidelines.
  • Special Needs Trust: An irrevocable trust is established for the benefit of an individual with a disability, usually by the individual's parents, legal guardian, or the court. Money in a trust may be used to purchase a car and to pay for related expenses, such as upkeep, repairs, insurance, and fuel. Social Security and Medicaid review Special Needs Trusts to see if they will be counted as assets for and affect eligibility for the programs.
  • Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS): A Social Security work incentive that allows people on SSI and/or SSDI to save part of their earnings, and/or unearned income for goods or services needed to achieve or maintain a vocational goal. A car that is needed for work may be approved for a PASS plan goal.
  • Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE): Monies that someone on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays out-of-pocket in order to work, and is an expense related to the disability. An IRWE can be transportation expenses. Although the purchase of a car is not an acceptable expense, the cost of vehicle modifications paid out-of-pocket may be approved as an IRWE.