Putting disabled parking cheats on the spot - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Putting disabled parking cheats on the spot

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Handicapped placards are meant to be used by people with disabilities, but many times they are abused by those who don't need them and maybe shouldn't even have them in the first place.

The placards are intended to help those with a disability park close to their destination especially those with limited mobility, but Police chief Shelley Zimmerman says more than half are being misused for free or convenient parking.

“The concept is that as a person with a disability, you're able to theoretically park a little bit closer to your destination,” said Louis Frick, Access to Independence Executive Director. Police Chief Zimmerman calls placard abuse a "citywide problem" and "flagrant and willful misuse of placard(s) has increased substantially."

She added that an estimated 60-percent are misused.

The state does issue placards for people without obvious conditions that flare-up like multiple sclerosis, but the National MS-Society encourages them to apply when their mobility is significantly impaired.

“The fact of the matter is they get abused and the abuse is not only the individual it can be a doctor. Doctors will sometimes write a script or whatever is needed for someone to get a placard when they may not need one,” said Louis Frick.

Louis Frick is the executive director of Access to Independence and someone who uses a disabled placard.

He says despite the misuse, they serve a very valid purpose.

“If those people are using them legitimately, I don't have a problem with the lack of revenue the city in terms of parking. My frustration would be if those placards are illegally obtained or being used inappropriately. I have a huge problem with that,” he said.

Just last month, the city council unanimously passed a resolution nearly doubling the penalty for placard abuse.

It also allows all peace officers - like parking enforcement officers - to issue the now $740 ticket.

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