Illegal Use of Disabled Parking Placards – VC 4461

Under California Vehicle Code Section 4461, it is unlawful to use a disabled parking placard in the following manner:

  • Lending a valid placard to someone else who is not authorized or permitted to use it1
  • Using or displaying a disabled placard that was not issued to you2
  • Displaying a disabled placard that has expired or been cancelled.
  • Parking in a disabled parking space if you are not disabled3.

Unlawful Circumstances

Many people may not realize that they are using a placard illegally. They also may not realize that the penalties for illegal use are steep or that they can be criminally prosecuted.

Disabled placards are issued to certain individuals on the following basis:

  • Loss of one or more lower extremities
  • Loss of both hands
  • Severe disability requiring use of an assistive device
  • Disease or condition that substantially impairs or interferes with mobility
  • For a disabling condition that lasts 6 months, you can be issued a temporary placard

The placard can be for a family member and not necessarily the driver. The disabled person may also be a minor. Also, you do not need to be wheelchair bound, just have a condition severe enough that inhibits your movement such as an arthritic back or hands. For a temporary placard, a broken leg that disables you for 6 months entitles you to be issued one.

Placard For Non-Driving Family Member

If the placard is for a non-driving family member, you must have transported that person to have used the placard legally. If you drive your car without the disabled person or that disabled individual lends you the placard for your own use, both you and the disabled person are violating CVC 4461.

Any display of the placard in your car, even without having parked4, is unlawful if it was not issued to you and you are not transporting the disabled person, or it has been revoked, expired or cancelled.

It is lawful, however, to park the car in a disabled space or display it even if the disabled person is not in your car so long as you are in the course of transporting that person such as having just dropped the person off at a store or medical clinic.

Criminal Penalties For VC 4461

Illegal use of a disabled parking placard is a misdemeanor and the penalties you face are:

PenaltyMisdemeanor
Fine$250 – $1,0005
Probation3 years informal probation
JailUp to 6 months in county jail6

Should you fail to pay the fine, you face an additional misdemeanor charge under CVC 40508. The penalties are the same as above. You can still be charged even if you do pay the fine in full before your arraignment or trial. If you do pay in full, however, it is unlikely the court will impose any more than a fine and may dismiss the matter entirely. You are not subject to a bench warrant for failing to pay a parking fine.

Civil Penalties

For illegally displaying or using a disabled parking placard, you face a fine of at least $250 and up to $10007. You may also face an additional fine at the court’s discretion for $1500 per conviction. This is not imposed if you were the disabled person who knowingly lent out the placard8.

Legal Defenses For Violating Vehicle Code 4461

There are defenses to violating VC 4461:

  • You did not knowingly lend out your disabled parking placard
  • You were transporting the disabled individual and had just dropped the person off so you could park the vehicle

The officer who issued you the ticket may only have observed you parking and noticed no obvious signs of disability and assumed you were using the placard unlawfully.

Expungement

  • Find Out if You Are Eligible To Have Your Record Expunged
  • Stop Worrying About Employer Background Checks
  • Start Worrying About Landlord Background Checks

How We Can Help

Although receiving a ticket for unlawfully displaying a disabled parking placard may seem inconsequential, it can lead to substantial fines and court costs and even jail time if charged as a misdemeanor. Call the Aizman Law Firm to discuss your case and discuss how our highly experienced and resourceful attorneys can help resolve your legal matter if you were issued a ticket regarding a disabled parking placard.

Get Legal Help

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. California Vehicle Code 4461(b) – A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued shall not lend the placard to another person, and a disabled person shall not knowingly permit the use for parking purposes of the placard or identification license plate issued pursuant to Section 5007 by one not entitled to it. A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued may permit another person to use the placard only while in the presence or reasonable proximity of the disabled person for the purpose of transporting the disabled person. A violation of this subdivision is subject to the issuance of a notice of parking violation imposing a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), for which enforcement shall be governed by the procedures set forth in Article 3 (commencing with Section 40200) of Chapter 1 of Division 17 or is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or both that fine and imprisonment., See California Law Statute []
  2. Vehicle Code 4461(c): “Except for the purpose of transporting a disabled person as specified in subdivision (b), a person shall not display a disabled person placard that was not issued to him or her or that has been canceled or revoked pursuant to Section 22511.6. A violation of this subdivision is subject to the issuance of a notice of parking violation imposing a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), for which enforcement shall be governed by the procedures set forth in Article 3 (commencing with Section 40200) of Chapter 1 of Division 17 or is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or both that fine and imprisonment.” []
  3. California Vehicle Code 4461(b), (c) and (d). []
  4. California Vehicle Code 4461(c). []
  5. Vehicle Code 4461(b). See Statute []
  6. See Same []
  7. Penal Code 19.8. []
  8. California Vehicle Code 4461.5 – In addition to, or instead of, any fine imposed for conviction of a violation of subdivision (c) or (d) of Section 4461, the court may impose a civil penalty of not more than one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) for each conviction. []

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