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Handicap Placard Abuse - California VC Vehicle Code 4461

Posted by Raoul Severo | Sep 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

For the past few years, California has been facing a serious challenge with handicap placards. Apparently, these state-issued disabled person placards are being targeted by petty and low-life criminals who are looking for a way to dodge parking meter fees. In fact, a study published last 2017 revealed that more than 26,000 individuals are registered as 100-year-old disabled persons who have access to blue disabled placards. But in reality, the statistics should just be 8,000. Plus, people who are over a hundred years old aren't necessarily driving anymore. This led government officials to believe that around 18,000 are using a handicap placard even when they're not entitled to one. 

You might be wondering why people even go out and steal handicap placards from innocent persons with disabilities. That is because these placards allow car owners to park their vehicles at any street meter for free at any time of day. Consequently, this kind of convenience attracted many thieves and customers who are willing to pay to obtain one -- even when they know they're not entitled to owning one. 

The idea that able-bodied individuals capitalize on disabled people's suffering is truly disturbing. Hence, California Vehicle Code VC 4461 made it illegal for anyone to:

  • Lend a handicap placard to anyone who is not entitled to its use;
  • Borrow a handicap placard from a person with disability for personal reasons; and
  • Use an expired or invalid handicap placard.

There are cases where individuals use the handicap placard of a deceased disabled relative. Whether it be for remembrance or other purposes, it is still a misuse of the handicap placard. Now, a third party may use the placard temporarily if they are transporting the disabled individual. They cannot use it if they are going to the store to buy some stuff for the handicapped person even if they are working on their behalf. The law made it clear that the placard can only be utilized by the individual it was issued to and nobody else.

Keep in mind that ownership of a handicap placard does not mean you are exempt from other traffic rules. There are designated places where handicapped people should park, such as:

  • Handicap parking space (one that is painted with a wheelchair symbol);
  • Besides a blue curb allotted for PWDs to park their vehicles;
  • Besides a green curb without time limits; and
  • Street meter parking at no cost.

Illegal parking is a violation of California Vehicle Code VC 22500 where the fines are usually around $65.00.

Penalties for Handicap Placard Abuse

Stealing or borrowing a handicap placard for your own selfish gain is not only immoral but also illegal. Violating VC 4461 can either be classified as a misdemeanor or an infraction offense.

For a misdemeanor, the penalties are:

  • A fine of at least $250 but not more than $1,000
  • A county jail sentence of up to 6 months

For a civil infraction, the penalty is:

  • A fine of at least $250 but not more than $1,000

Additional fines and penalties may be imposed depending on the facts of your case.

How To Report Handicap Placard Abuse

As a member of the community, we all have the responsibility to look after one another. Hence, if you suspect that someone is using a disabled placard illegally, you are highly encouraged to do any of the following:

  • List down the necessary details: the time of day, the place where you saw the placard being used, the vehicle model, the license plate, the description of the individual, etc.
  • Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles through their contact number 800-777-0133. Report everything that will be helpful and useful to investigators.
  • If the situation permits, post your experience in social media. This is to spread awareness of the persistent modus victimizing our beloved members of the PWD community.

It is important to approach all potential abusers with skepticism. Do not appear as if you know that a person is a placard abuser after merely judging their appearance. Remember, not all disabilities show. A seemingly able-bodied person may be battling with medical conditions that do not manifest physically. So, be very careful with how you approach the situation but remain vigilant with your surroundings.

Get Legal Help

The monetary consequences may seem small, but that does not mean you are not allowed to defend yourself for being accused of violating Vehicle Code 4461. As soon as possible, get legal help from our well-trained and brilliant defense attorneys here at the Law Office of Raoul Severo in California.

Send us a message! We'll get back to you ASAP

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