You're running late to work and you need your coffee fix. On your way to work you spot a Starbucks and pull in and grab the only parking space available – Handicap Parking. You figure you will only be several minutes and you park there. You then run in and grab your favorite tall latte and dash to your car only to find a citation on your windshield. You just committed Handicap parking fraud! Now, you may think this is no big deal and it's just a ticket that comes with a small fine. Not so fast. In Los Angeles, some violators may be charged with a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months county jail and a steep fine and a permanent criminal record.
Who Is Eligible for a Handicap Placard?
A handicap placard can be obtained by applying at your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office. To qualify the applicant must have a:
- serious impaired mobility;
- loss of both or one of your hands or legs;
- visual impairment such as blindness or partial-sightedness.
A medical doctor, physician, nurse practitioner, chiropractor, optometrist, or a physician's assistant must sign the Doctor's Medical Certification section of the application.
According to California Vehicle Code section 4461, it is illegal for a person to:
- Park in a space and display a handicap placard not issued to the driver or display a handicap placard that has been canceled or revoked;
- Lend your handicap placard to someone else who is not authorized to use it; or
- Park in a handicap space without having a disabled or handicapped person on board.
Violating Vehicle Code section 4461 can result in one of two penalties:
- A civil fine that is comparable to a parking ticket, from $250 to $1,000. Failure to pay or go to court on the citation may result in being charged with Failure To Appear or Pay a Traffic Citation. This Failure To Appear or pay will be reported to the DMV and ultimately may result in your driver's license being suspended and additional penalties.
- A misdemeanor charge, which may result in up to 6 months in county jail, and/or a fine from $250 to $1,000.
Additional Related Handicap Fraud Offenses
Under Vehicle Code section 4463(b) it is illegal to:
- forge or falsify a handicap parking placard;
- knowingly attempt to pass a forged handicap permit as a genuine handicap placard;
- acquire, possess or sell forged handicap placard.
This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $500 to $1000 fine.
Under Vehicle Code section 4463(c) it is illegal to display or cause another person to display a counterfeit handicap parking placard. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $250 to $1000 fine.
If you find yourself accused of handicapped parking fraud, it is important you enlist the help of a trusted criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Possible defenses for this charge may include the fact that you did not knowingly allow someone to use your placard or you were dropping off or picking up a disabled person who was not in the car when you were given a citation.
Schedule an initial consultation with a member of our firm by calling (213) 481-6811.