Who Can Get a Handicap Placard?
A handicap placard, or disabled person placard, is a blue tag that hangs on a disabled person’s rearview mirror. A qualified person with a permanent disability may obtain a disabled person placard for all of their vehicles. According to the DMV, you may qualify for such a placard if you have impaired mobility for any of the following reasons:
- You don’t have use of one or more lower extremities or both hands
- You have a diagnosed disease that substantially impairs mobility
- You are unable to move without an assistive device
- You have specific, documented vision problems, including lower-vision or partial-sightedness
To apply for a handicap placard, you must fill out an application and have a licensed medical professional such as a physician, surgeon, or optometrist complete and sign it. Once you have a valid handicap placard, you may park in parking spaces with a wheelchair symbol, next to a blue curb, next to a green cub for as long as you wish, in a metered parking space at no charge, or in an area requiring residential or merchant permits.
California Vehicle Code Section 4461
While it may be tempting to park in a handicap parking spot, illegally using a handicap placard is a criminal offense that carries significant penalties for those convicted. Under California Vehicle Code Section 4461, the following behaviors are prohibited:
- Lending a disabled person placard if the person desiring to borrow it would not be entitled to its use, and knowingly permitting its use by one not entitled to it
- Displaying a disabled person placard that was not issued to him/her or that has been canceled or revoked
- Using a vehicle with a special identification license plate issued to another person and then parking in spaces designated for disabled persons
However, these restrictions do not apply to people who are using the placard only while in the presence or reasonable proximity of the disabled person for the purpose of transporting the disabled person.
Penalties for Illegally Using a Handicap Placard
California Vehicle Code Section 4461 can be prosecuted as an infraction or a misdemeanor. An infraction is punishable by a civil fine between $250 to $1,000. A misdemeanor is also punishable by a fine between $250 to $1,000, along with up to 6 months imprisonment in the county jail. To avoid hefty fines or even jail time, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible after you have been cited for illegally using a handicap placard.
Defenses for Illegally Using a Handicap Placard
In order to be prosecuted under Section 4461, the defendant must have had knowledge of misuse. If the owner of the placard did not know that someone else was using it or if it was taken without the owner’s permission, then the owner cannot be found guilty under this section. The owner must have actually given the placard to another or given permission to use it in order to be convicted.
In addition, as stated above, parking in a handicap spot is not illegal if the driver is only using the placard while in the presence or reasonable proximity of the disabled person for the purpose of transporting the disabled person. If you were transporting a disabled person, you can use this defense to get the charges against you dropped.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in cases ranging from DUIs to traffic violations, and we have the skills and resources to secure a successful outcome for you. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate the specific circumstances of your case to see whether you qualify for any defenses, so we can get your penalties reduced or even get your case completely dismissed. If you’ve been accused of illegally using a handicap placard, contact our attorneys immediately.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.