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California Assemblymen audit DMV: disabled placard abuse

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California Assemblymen Eric Linder and Mike Gatto want some answers to the alleged abuse of disabled parking placards.

They have requested an audit of the Department of Motor Vehicles, saying the problem starts with them.

Two years ago San Diego news channel NBC 7 exposed that city and state employees were parking downtown, using placards that did not belong to them.

“I have been following this issue for quite some time and I’ve seen the reports on your station, where sting operations occur and a lot of drivers who are clearly abusing the system,” Gatto said. “The public is very sick of what’s going on out there, they have seen the stories, they have seen the streets where every single car has a placard displayed, they know there are people abusing the system and taking advantage of it.”

The audit was requested by the assemblymen last year, and those results are expected to be released in just a few weeks.

The audit is looking closely at a few key concerns which include:

  • If medical providers and doctors are vouching for people who aren't really disabled?
  • If some people been issued more than one placard?
  • How many placards are still out there even though the owner is deceased?

Gatto is eager to see the findings of the audit, saying they could result in DMV policy changes and new laws.

“You have unethical members of the public that are willing to take these spots away from those that need them,” he told NBC. “You probably have doctors that should not be issuing these placards unless they truly are disabled and then you have the government failing. The DMV should be stronger in how they handle the program.”

The DMV said they cannot officially comment about the issue until they see the auditor’s report, but they do say they are cracking down on the mistreatment of privileges.

“The DMV takes crimes relating to disabled parking placards seriously and reviews every complaint it receives. The DMV Investigations Division attempts to conduct at least one proactive Disabled Person Parking Placard enforcement operation each month. Individual complaints are investigated as they are received. In the past three fiscal years, DMV investigators conducted 270 enforcement operations throughout the state and issued 2,019 misdemeanor citations for disabled parking placard abuse," said Jessica Gonzalez, Assistant Deputy Director of Public Affairs with the California DMV.

Since 2015, the San Diego City Council has increased penalties for disabled placard abuse, including heavier fines and  tighter law enforcement protocols.