The state of California provides a number of services to individuals with disabilities, including handicapped parking spaces. Individuals with need are issued disabled placards or license plates that give them the right to park in these spaces.
California residents who fraudulently use these spaces may be charged under California Vehicle Code Section 4461: Unlawful Use of a Disability Placard. This charge may apply if an individual:
- Lets someone else utilize their disability placard
- Uses another person’s disability placard
- Parks in a handicapped space without a placard
Find out more about VC 4461 charges right here with the Simmrin Law Group. You can review the potential outcomes of a VC 4461 conviction and focus on options for legal defenses for the unlawful use of a disability placard.
Defining the Unlawful Use of a Disability Placard
Misuse of a disability placard may also be referred to as handicapped parking fraud in California. The court system considers several acts to be handicapped parking fraud. Let’s take a closer look at a few examples.
Giving Someone Else a Disability Placard
Some individuals who legitimately possess a disability placard may decide to loan it to a friend or family member. This is illegal in the state of California. Even knowingly allowing another person to use a disability placard can lead to a VC 4461 conviction.
Exhibiting an Invalid Disability Placard
Drivers are never permitted to use a disability placard that they were not legally assigned. The only exception to this rule arises if a driver is transporting a disabled person, in which case they can use the placard. Drivers can also face criminal charges for using a placard after it is revoked.
Parking Illegally in a Handicapped Space
California drivers park illegally in handicapped spaces if they park while displaying an invalid disability placard or if they have invalid disability plates on their vehicle. Again, drivers are permitted to use a handicapped space if they are driving a person with a disability. Of course, parking in these spaces with no disability placards or plates is also illegal.
Examples of VC 4461 Violations in California
Woman A has a disability placard. She gives the placard to her daughter, so her daughter can get great parking at the mall. Her daughter gets caught unlawfully using a handicapped space when she arrives. Both mother and daughter could face VC 4461 charges.
Woman B is driving her disabled mother to a doctor’s appointment. She uses her mother’s disability placard to park in a handicapped space. She should not face criminal charges because she is lawfully transporting an individual with a disability.
Man A is driving his disabled son to the movies. He drops his son off with his friends. He then drives a couple of blocks down the road to have lunch while he waits for his son. He parks the car, which has disability license plates, in a handicapped spot at the restaurant.
Despite the fact that Man A was transporting a disabled person, he has left the reasonable proximity of that person. Because of this, he is no longer able to legally use a disabled parking spot. Man A could face a charge under California VC Section 4461.
Obtaining a Disability Placard or License Plate
Facing a charge under VC 4461 can be especially frustrating if you have a legitimate disability. It is important to display your DP placard properly anytime you are parking in a disabled parking spot. Even if you have a DP placard, you can still face a charge if it is not hanging in your window.
Getting a DP license plate can eliminate the hassle of remembering to put up your placard. However, at the same time, you cannot use it if you are traveling in another vehicle. You should be aware of your options for travel parking placards as well. If you are renting or borrowing another person’s car, you should pick up one of these temporary placards.
There are many charges that a person could face in addition to, or instead of, a charge under California Vehicle Code Section 4461. A few of the laws that regulate these charges are:
- California Vehicle Code Section 4463 – Forging or Falsifying Vehicle Registration
- California Vehicle Code Section 20 – Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP
- California Penal Code Section 472 – Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal
Penalties for a VC 4461 Conviction
The unlawful use of a disability placard may be treated as a minor infraction or as a misdemeanor in the state of California. Infractions are punishable offenses that are not considered criminal acts. You may think of speeding tickets as another example of a traffic offense often treated as an infraction in California.
Drivers who face a VC 4461 infraction may be fined up to $1,000. Infractions do not lead to incarceration. Misdemeanor charges are far more serious. Drivers charged with a VC 4461 misdemeanor may end up:
- Fined up to $1,000
- Jailed for up to six months
- Facing summary probation
Drivers may sometimes be sentenced to probation instead of jail time in unlawful use of disability placard cases.
In addition to the fine of up to $1,000 for violation of VC 4461, the court may order the defendant to pay another fine of up to $1,500. Cities and counties have the right to add a further penalty of up to $100. That means that in total, you could be looking at up to $2,600 in fines if found guilty of a violation of this penal code.
These additional fines may be assessed whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or an infraction.
When Is VC 4461 Charged as a Misdemeanor
It is fairly rare to face a misdemeanor charge under VC 4461. The majority of the time, this crime is charged as a civil infraction. However, a misdemeanor charge is certainly possible under the right conditions.
Whether to pursue a misdemeanor or infraction charge is up to the prosecutor’s discretion. In most cases, the prosecutor will only pursue a misdemeanor conviction if the violation was quite severe or if the defendant has a history of similar offenses.
Defenses for Unlawful Use of a Disability Placard Accusations
You can get legal help on your side if you are accused of unlawfully using a disability placard. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Simmrin Law Group can dig into the details surrounding your case. Depending on your situation, a legal professional could argue that:
You Were Using a Disability Placard Lawfully
Individuals in California are legally allowed to transport people with disabilities. If you are providing a ride to a disabled individual, you may use their disability placard to park in a handicapped space. This applies even if you drop a disabled individual off at the door to a building and then park your car.
You Didn’t Know Someone Was Misusing Your Disability Placard
Individuals who willingly give their disability placards to other people can face criminal charges. However, you should not be charged under VC 4461 if someone took your disability placard without your knowledge or permission.
Speak With a Criminal Defense Lawyer About VC 4461 Charges
California Vehicle Code Section 4461: Unlawful Use of a Disability Placard charges can lead to fines and jail time. You can work to resolve these charges in your favor by contacting the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Simmrin Law Group.
Speak with our criminal defense lawyers now for a free initial case evaluation. You can reach us by giving us a call or completing our online contact form.