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Misuse of Handicap Placard

Vehicle Code 4461 VC - Misuse of Handicap Placards or License Plates

California Vehicle Code 4461 VC is the statute that makes it a crime to misuse a handicapped disability parking placard or license plate. If convicted, it could be considered an infraction or a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in county jail.

VC 4461 prohibits misusing a disability parking placard or license by lending it to someone or allowing another person to use it. This law also prohibits displaying a handicap placard or license plates that were canceled or revoked, issued to someone else, or parking in a designated parking space if you are not disabled.

Vehicle Code 4461 VC - Misuse of Handicap Placards or License Plates
Vehicle Code 4461 VC prohibits the misuse of a handicapped disability parking placard or plate.

Simply put, the placard is intended solely for the disabled and restricted to specific parking spaces.

VC 4461(a) says, “A person shall not lend a certificate of ownership, registration card, license plate, special plate, validation tab, or permit issued to him or her if the person desiring to borrow it would not be entitled to its use, and a person shall not knowingly permit its use by one not entitled to it.”

(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's 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 ($250 and not more than $1,000, for which enforcement shall be governed by the procedures outlined in Article 3 of Chapter 1 of Division 17 or is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $1,000, imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or both that fine and imprisonment.”

Disabled Placard Misuse – Quick Facts

There are some essential facts you should know about Vehicle Code 4461 VC misuse of handicap placards or license plates, such as the following:

  • The offense is also known as “handicapped parking fraud.”
  • This law is designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities and ensure they have access to designated parking spaces.
  • Lending your disabled placard to someone else or allowing another person to use your placard, even if disabled, is prohibited.  
  • Displaying a disabled placard not issued to you, including family members or friends, is also prohibited.
  • Using an expired, revoked, or counterfeit placard is prohibited.
  • Displaying a placard that is no longer valid or has been revoked by the issuing authority is also unlawful.
  • Wrongly parking in a designated handicapped space is also prohibited.
  • VC 4461 applies to disability placards and special-issue disability plates.
  • A disabled person placard refers to a state-issued placard bearing the universal "wheelchair symbol."
  • VC 4461(c) prohibits displaying the placard if it was issued to another person unless you are transporting them or if it was canceled or revoked.
  • You do not have to be parked in a disabled spot to violate this law; just displaying the placard is sufficient for a violation.
  • Vehicle Code 4461(d) prohibits parking in a handicapped spot if the vehicle has disabled license plates issued to another person.
  • An exception to the law includes using someone else's disability placard if they are transporting that person.

What Are the Penalties?

VC 4461 is considered a "wobblette," meaning it could be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending on the case details:

  • An infraction includes a fine between $250 and $1000;
  • There are NO points on your DMV record;
  • A misdemeanor carries up to 6 months in county jail, a fine between $250 and $1000, and summary probation;
  • You could face an additional fine of up to $1500 if you misuse a placard or plate to park in a handicapped spot;
  • You could be charged with failure to appear If you don't pay the fine.

What Are the Defenses?

Suppose you were cited or criminally charged for allegedly violating Vehicle Code 4461. In that case, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers could use different strategies, as discussed below.

Maybe we can argue there was a lack of intent. It must be proven that you intentionally misused the placard to be found guilty of violating this law. Perhaps we can show there was no intent and get the citation dismissed.

Maybe we can argue that there was a lack of knowledge. Perhaps you did not know the placard or license plate was expired or revoked. Maybe we can say that you qualified for an exception. Perhaps you were using the placard to transport someone it was issued to.

Remember, you can violate this law if you lend a valid disability placard to somebody not authorized to use it, knowingly allow somebody ineligible to use it, use the placard that was issued to someone else, use one that was canceled or revoked, or drive somebody's car and park it in a reserved handicap parking spot.

You can contact us for a free case review via phone or the contact form. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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