Illegally Using Handicap Placards in California

Individuals who have special needs or are nursing an injury often find it difficult to make the long trek from the back or even the middle of the parking lot. To make life a little easier for them, handicap parking spaces are placed as close to the entrance as possible. These spaces are designed to only be used by individuals who need them.

The problem that exists is that many people love parking near the front of the parking lot and will go to surprisingly great lengths to come up with a reason to do so. This is often done through the misuse of handicap placards and endorsements.

If you’re thinking about taking steps to acquire a fake placard for your vehicle, you should reconsider.

Anyone who misuses a handicap parking space or fake handicap authorization is violating Vehicle Code 4461 VC. The code is quite extensive. California’s lawmakers went to a great deal of trouble to find and close any loopholes that people would try to use when they illegally parked in a handicap space.

When you read through the law, you’ll discover:

  • It’s illegal for anyone to lend their handicap sticker to another person (unless the individual the authorization was issued to is also in the vehicle).
  • It’s illegal for someone to park a vehicle in a designated space when they aren’t transporting the handicapped individual, even if the authorization has been assigned to that vehicle.
  • It’s illegal to create a fake handicap authorization just so you can park closer to the building.

California lawmakers have little patience with anyone who is caught using a handicap authorization illegally.

Many people assume that getting caught misusing a disabled parking placard will result in nothing more than a sharp reprimand. That’s not the case at all. The reality is that this is one of California’s wobbler laws, with the potential charges either being handled as an infraction or as a misdemeanor.

If the situation is handled as an infraction, you’ll face a large fine that ranges from $250-$1,000. It’s also likely that additional fees, including court costs and administrative fees, will be added to the ticket.

Things are much worse if the incident is handled as a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, you’ll have a criminal record. The maximum sentence is up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine that could be as high as $1,000.

All things considered, it’s preferable for you to park further away from the building and prepare to walk.