Illegal Disability Placards Use Can Lead to Serious Charges
Years ago, the press widely carried a story about seven-foot tall Los Angeles Laker Andrew Bynum (remember him?) illegally using a handicapped parking permit and receiving a misdemeanor ticket for this. We have seen such tickets issued frequently at Del Amo Mall during the holiday season, the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona and at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Handicapped parking fraud is indeed illegal under Vehicle Code § 4461. The maximum penalty is six months in jail and a fine of $250 to $1,000, but the real danger is having the ticket lead to much more serious charges or professional licensing consequences if one is a nurse, attorney, medical doctor, insurance broker, etc.. In addition, the court has the discretion to also impose a $1,500 civil penalty on top of the $250 minimum to $1,000 maximum fine.Why This Article Matters: Illegal use of a disability placard is not just a parking ticket that can be handled by writing a check. It is a crime of fraud and may engender special ire from a judge, prosecutor or jury if they have a disabled family member.
- Lending a valid permit issued by the DMV to someone who is not entitled to use it;
- Knowingly permitting another person (who is not entitled to use the placard) to use the placard;
- Displaying a disabled person parking permit that was not issued by the DMV; or
- Driving someone else’s car that displays a valid disability placard and parking in a spot reserved for disabled persons.
Handicapped parking fraud often also involves counterfeit disability placards. This can be filed as a violation of California Vehicle Code § 3363(b). If one is convicted of violating this misdemeanor code section, the judge can impose a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine between $250 and $1,000.
When someone is using another person’s permit as is it were there own, a police officer may question the user if he or she is disabled. If one provides false information to the police officer, for example by falsely insisting the placard owner is yourself, a violation of Vehicle Code § 31 occurs. This is providing false information to a police officer, which carries with it a maximum six month jail term and fine of $1,000.
Lastly, we have seen one case where our client obtained a proper, DMV-issued disability parking placard, but did so based on filing a false application with the DMV, a violation of California Vehicle Code § 20. Our client had done this once before, so the judge seriously considered imposing the maximum punishment, six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine, but he did not. We were able to negotiate a plea bargain involving an enormous amount of community service and a fine.
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