LOS ANGELES – If you’ve ever driven someone who has been issued a Disabled Person Parking Placard (DPPP) for medical or mobility needs and tried to find a disabled parking spot in which they can access a doctor’s office, grocery store, pharmacy, or any other business just a little easier – you know you are often out of luck. With approximately 2.4 million people in California in possession of permanent Disabled Person Parking Placards, disabled parking spots are at a premium. Add to that, the abuse that takes place by abled-body drivers who use a relative’s or stolen DPPP to take advantage of convenient and/or free parking for extended hours, and you can understand the need for Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) investigators to conduct enforcement operations targeting DPPP abusers.
“According to the International Parking Institute, parking placard abuse subverts the intent and spirt of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was passed more than 27 years ago to help ensure that people with disabilities can access the same public spaces and services as everyone else. So in keeping with this, and in response to the community’s request for assistance, we are compelled to go out and take enforcement action,” said Kenny Ehrman, president of the Association of Motor Vehicle Investigators of California (AMVIC).
Ehrman was among the investigators who, on April 11, 2017, cited 42 people who were caught violating the law by misusing a DPPP near the Glendale Galleria. Investigators made contact with 280 people displaying a DPPP. Those cited in the enforcement operation face possible fines that range from $250 to $1,000, depending on the jurisdiction. While the misdemeanor offense will appear on their driver record, no points will be assessed because it is not a moving violation.
“None of us choose a career in law enforcement to issue tickets,” said Ehrman. “What attracted us, was the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. Watching individuals with DPPPs drive around the parking structures for extended periods of time hoping a space becomes available, is an unfortunate site to witness. Our presence at the Glendale Galleria helped to alleviate this problem. For that, we can all feel like we made a difference.”
During the past three fiscal years (2013/14 – 2015/16), DMV investigators conducted 270 enforcement operations throughout the state and issued 2,019 citations.
Most violations involve people using disabled parking placards issued to family or friends to avoid paying parking fees, as well as obtaining convenient and/or unrestricted parking. California Vehicle Code Section 4461(b) (c) prohibits anyone from lending their placard, knowingly permitting the use of their placard or allowing anyone else to use it while they are not present. In addition, a person shall not display a disabled person placard that was not issued to him or her or that has been canceled or revoked.
“It is important to point out that some qualifying disabilities are not visually apparent and allegations of misuse may be unfounded,” explained DMV Investigations Chief Frank Alvarez. “The majority of Californians who apply for a DPPP have legitimate reasons for doing so.”