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DMV fines almost 500 drivers caught misusing disabled parking placards

DMV fines almost 500 drivers caught misusing disabled parking placards
A plainclothes DMV officer waits next to a disabled parking spot at the Glendale Galleria during an undercover crackdown on the fraudulent use of disabled parking placards. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The California Department of Motor Vehicles caught 491 people misusing disabled person parking placards last month, authorities said.

The majority of those offenses were found during five sweeps at the Los Angeles County Fair, which resulted in 443 citations. Those who were caught had their placards confiscated and face fines that range from $250 to $1,000.

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DMV investigators said they have checked 5,422 disabled person parking placards since July. Of those, 640 were used improperly.

“We ask you to save the space for those individuals who legitimately need a disabled person parking placard that is issued specifically for their use,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement.

The DMV holds as many as 24 enforcement operations each month throughout the state targeted at curbing the abuse of disabled parking placards. The state has issued 2.9 million placards and special license plates that allow motorists with medical disabilities to park in disabled parking spots and curbside in metered areas.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown approved legislation aimed at preventing placard fraud. The legislation requires the DMV to annually compare its record of disabled placards against the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File as well as state databases of the deceased.

The measure calls for quarterly audits of applications for placards that will cross-check them with medical records, and mandates that those applying provide proof of their true full name and date of birth.

The move also prohibits the DMV from issuing replacement placards to the same person more than four times in a two-year period. Those who apply more often must submit a new certificate of disability.

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