Ask Laz: How long can a car with a disabled placard take up a parking space?

A disabled placard changes the rules for parking throughout California.

A disabled placard changes the rules for parking throughout California.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Kate’s email suggests that someone in her neighborhood is abusing disabled-parking privileges. She has two questions:

How long can a car occupy a handicapped parking space?

Can a disabled parking placard be shared among multiple vehicles so that one of them can occupy the same handicapped spot daily?

ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions

This is sensitive territory. Obviously anyone entitled to disabled-parking privileges should be treated with empathy and courtesy.

It’s also important to note that just because a person appears able-bodied, he or she may still have a medical condition qualifying them for a disabled placard.


But, as most Southern Californians know, the awarding and use of disabled placards is rife with abuse. The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced in July that it’s cracking down on misuse of the program.

It’s been widely reported that 1 in 10 of all California drivers has a disabled placard.

So let’s get to Kate’s questions. First, a disabled placard entitles the user to park as long as desired, regardless of posted limits.

Section 22511.5 of the California Vehicle Code says a disabled placard allows you to park “for unlimited periods” in any space “that is restricted as to the length of time parking is permitted.”

It also allows you “to park in any metered parking space without being required to pay parking meter fees.”

Sharing of a single placard among multiple cars is trickier.

“You are the only person who can use the parking placard or plates for parking or service station privileges,” says the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It is illegal to lend a placard to someone else or use another person’s placard. But there’s nothing in the law that stipulates a placard can only be used with a specific vehicle.

The best bet for Kate and others, therefore, may be to move on and not make trouble. But if you’re determined to report potential placard abuse, you can note it to the DMV by calling (800) 777-0133.

You can also get in touch with one of the agency’s investigation offices statewide. Here’s a link to find them.

You can also report placard abuse to any local law enforcement agency, including the police, sheriff’s department, Highway Patrol or your county Department of Transportation. Here’s a link for information from the city of Los Angeles for reporting placard abuse.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz