Handicapped Parking Fraud- California Law
You may not think misusing a handicapped parking placard is a big deal. After all, it is not a violent crime and you may not think you’re hurting anybody. However, misusing a handicapped parking placard is taken very seriously in the state of California. In addition to fines, a conviction can result in jail time and a criminal record. If you or a loved one is facing a charge for misusing a handicapped parking placard, we urge you to hire an experienced Wallin and Klarich attorney to fight for you.
Handicapped Parking Fraud – California Vehicle Code Section 4461
In the state of California, a handicapped parking placard is recognized as a blue placard with a white wheelchair symbol issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. A handicapped parking placard can be prescribed by a medical doctor, a nurse practitioner, a certified nurse midwife, a physician’s assistant, a chiropractor or an optometrist. The misuse of a handicapped parking placard is also known as handicapped parking fraud. Under California Vehicle Code Section 44611, it is illegal for a person to:
- Lend a validly issued handicapped parking placard to another person who is not entitled to use it
- Knowingly permit another person who is not otherwise entitled to use a handicapped parking placard to use it
- Display a handicapped parking placard that was not issued to you by the DMV or cancelled or revoked by the DMV
- Drive another person’s car that displays a valid handicapped parking placard and park in a parking spot reserved for disabled persons
For example, your mother is disabled and has a valid handicapped parking placard. You use your mother’s car (which has the handicapped parking placard) to go to the store for her while she stays at home to rest. You can’t find a parking spot so you park in a handicapped spot for 10 minutes while you are in the store. You can be charged for handicapped parking fraud under Vehicle Code Section 4461. High-volume areas where the misuse of handicapped parking placards is common include mall parking lots, college campuses and business districts. These laws do not apply for people who actively transport disabled persons.
What are the Defenses to a Handicapped Parking Fraud Charge?
The most effective defense to a handicapped parking fraud charge is if you were actually transporting a disabled person at the time of your arrest. For example, you are driving your mother who has been issued a handicapped parking placard to the store. You drop her off at the front of the store and then park the car in a handicapped parking space. Because you were transporting a disabled person (it does not matter that you were alone when you parked), you cannot be prosecuted for handicapped parking fraud.
What is the Punishment for a Handicapped Parking Fraud Conviction?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, handicapped parking fraud can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor. An infraction is punishable by a fine ranging from $250 to $1,000. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail and the same fine. In addition to or in lieu of the original fine, the court may impose a $1,500 civil penalty. A subsequent offense can result in a fine of up to $3,500.
Additional Charges to the Misuse of Handicapped Parking Placards
Depending on the circumstances of your case, an arrest for misusing a handicapped parking placard can result in additional charges.
Producing Counterfeit Handicapped Parking Placards – California Vehicle Code Section 4463(b)
Under California Vehicle Code Section 4463(b)2, it is illegal for a person to do the following:
- Forge, counterfeit or falsify a handicapped parking placard;
- Pass or attempt to pass as a false, forged or counterfeit handicapped parking placard as true and genuine knowing that it is false, forged, or counterfeited; or
- Acquire, possess, sell, or offer to sell as genuine a counterfeit handicapped parking placard.
A conviction under California Vehicle Code Section 4463(b) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 and up to six months in county jail.
Causing Another Person to Display a Counterfeit Handicapped Parking Placard – California Vehicle Code Section 4463(c)
Under California Vehicle Code Section 4463(c)3, it is illegal to fraudulently display or cause another person to display a forged, counterfeit or false handicapped parking placard. A conviction under Vehicle Code Section 4463(c) is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine ranging from $250 to $1,000 or up to six months in county jail and the same fine. In addition to or in lieu of the original fine, the court may impose a $2,500 civil penalty.
Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal – California Penal Code Section 472
Under California Penal Code Section 4724, it is illegal to forge or possess a fraudulent public seal, including one that appears on a validly issued California DMV handicapped parking placard. Depending on the circumstances of your case and past criminal history, forging or possessing a fraudulent public seal can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, two years or three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Making False Statements to the DMV or CHP – California Vehicle Code Section 20
Under California Vehicle Code Section 205, it is illegal to knowingly make a false statement or knowingly conceal any material fact in a registration document that you file with the California DMV. This includes an application for a handicapped parking placard. A conviction for making false statements under Vehicle Code Section 20 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Giving False Information to a Peace Officer – California Vehicle Code Section 31
Under California Vehicle Code Section 316, it is illegal to provide false information to a peace officer. This includes providing a peace officer with a forged or counterfeit handicapped parking placard or claiming that another person’s handicapped parking placard is your own. A conviction for giving false information to a peace officer under Vehicle Code Section 31 is a is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a charge for misusing a handicapped parking placard, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience in defending persons charged for all types of misdemeanor offenses. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
Information retrieved from: 1. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d03/vc4461.htm↩ 2. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d03/vc4463.htm↩ 3. Id.↩ 4. http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/472.html↩ 5. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/genprov/vc20.htm↩ 6. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/genprov/vc31.htm↩ Images retrieved from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disabled_parking_place.jpg http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2008-07-30_Misoriented_manhole_cover_in_a_handicapped_parking_space_at_UNC.jpg