May a transit provider deny service to an individual whose wheelchair or mobility device does not have functioning brakes?
No. A transit provider may not deny transportation to a rider whose wheelchair or mobility device does not have functioning brakes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3, a “wheelchair” is defined as “a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or more-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed or modified for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered.” The ADA regulations do not specify any particular equipment required for personal mobility devices, including brakes. Moreover, it will often be impossible for transit personnel to observe whether a passenger’s wheelchair is equipped with brakes. Most power wheelchairs are equipped with electromagnetic brakes that engage automatically, and are completely internal to the drive system with no visible parts.