The Misuse of a Handicap Placard
A handicap placard is a card, typically hung on the rearview mirror of a car, issued to individuals with any type of disability. They can use their placard to park in handicap parking spaces so it’s easier for them to access buildings. Unfortunately, there are instances where people misuse these placards and it is a very serious crime.
What Counts as Misuse?
There are several ways in which a handicap placard can be misused. One common way is if the owner of the placard lends it to someone who is not disabled and that person uses it to park in handicap spaces. If the disabled individual is not actively being transported in the vehicle, then it is illegal for any other driver to use it. Other examples include driving someone else’s car and using their placard, using a placard that belongs to someone else and was canceled or revoked, and lending a placard to someone who is not eligible to use one.
Defenses and Penalties
One of the most common defenses is if the owner of the placard is in the car and actively being transported. For example, if you drove someone to a hospital, dropped them off, and then parked the car you would not be breaking the law. If you are the owner of the placard, you can avoid being charged if you can prove that you had no knowledge someone else was using your placard. Knowingly using a placard you are not authorized to or knowingly lending your placard to someone are crimes, so you must prove neither of these instances occurred. If you are charged, you can face either an infraction or a misdemeanor. You will face fines and potential jail time if charged with a misdemeanor offense.
When someone misuses a handicap placard, there is also the potential that other crimes have been committed. Most of these other crimes involve fraud. In some cases, an individual might also have forged their vehicle registration or their public seal. Some individuals may have also falsified other DMV documents or lied to a peace officer. It’s common for crimes like these to pile up and add additional charges.
Misusing a handicap placard might not seem like a serious crime, but it deserves to be taken seriously. These placards are issued for the benefit of those who need them and they should not be misused in any way.
Have you been accused of misusing a handicap placard? Click here to find an attorney to represent your case.
Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.