The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ramped up enforcement efforts into the fraudulent use of disabled person parking placards, issuing 167 citations throughout the state in the month of March.
During the #SaveTheSpace campaign, DMV investigators in 20 enforcement operations from Oroville to San Diego contacted over 2,000 drivers who had parked in disabled person parking spaces to verify the placard by comparing its assigned number with its accompanying registration card, and the identity of the registrant. If the placard’s owner wasn’t present, or if the information on the placard didn’t match the registration card, investigators issued a misdemeanor citation, which includes a fine of $250-$1000, and confiscated the placard.
About 8% of contacted drivers were found to be using a placard fraudulently. Drivers in Pomona and Stockton were particularly high rate offenders, with citation rates at 20% or greater. Overall, DMV investigators have issued 1,831 citations since July 1, 2017.
According to DMV, the most common abusers are individuals who use disability placards issued to family members or friends to avoid parking fees and obtain convenient parking spaces, or drivers without a disability placard or license plate who use the blue zone for parking or loading and unloading of passengers.
Drivers who fraudulently use placards are creating a serious mobility challenge for drivers with disabilities by forcing them to find parking elsewhere, potentially in places that may present accessibility challenges or exacerbate a medical condition.
“(The hashtag) #SaveTheSpace is catching on,” said DMV spokesperson Jaime Garza via email. “I was told that organizations that assist the disabled are starting to use the hashtag in their posts, and not just in California.”
Garza said the public service announcement received positive feedback. The television spot aired more than 600 times on various TV stations throughout the state and was watched nearly 30,000 times on DMV’s social media in March. DMV also created a series of testimonial videos where placard owners could talk about the importance of the campaign, and a poster that social media users were encouraged to download and display in their homes and offices.
Not every disability is visible, and allegations of misuse may be unfounded, but if you suspect someone may be fraudulently using a disabled person parking placard, contact DMV at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the online reporting form available at www.dmv.ca.gov. If possible, provide the placard’s issuance number, make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number, and the location where the suspected abuse is occurring.