SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Thousands of people across California are misusing the disabled parking placards, according to a new report released by the state auditor’s office on Tuesday.
Curtis Walker has been using a handicap parking pass for years.
“It’s a vital service,” he said. “It prevents you from having to deal with hassles.”
He was issued a placard from the DMV after getting a written note from his doctor following back surgery. His pass is a coveted possession.
“People ask me to use my placard all the time,” said Walker.
Having one has some clear benefits that can be taken advantage of. Placard holders can stay at meters for longer periods of times and you don’t have to pay to park.
“This is a system that has been completely, completely stricken by abuse for decades now,” said Mike Gatto.
Gatto, a former Assemblyman, pushed for a review of the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ Disabled Placard Program last year.
“Every time someone abuses the system, they are taking away that spot from someone who really needs it and deserves it,” said Gatto.
The report released today by the state auditor found poor application vetting and little follow up in the placard program.
“There’s always a potential for misuse,” explained Margarita Fernandez with the state auditor’s office.
According to the report, 73 percent of approved placard applications lacked enough information to even be considered.
“Some of the medical providers signing off or certifying the placard weren’t necessarily authorized,” said Fernandez, explaining more problems with the process.
On the back end, the report found renewals happened without much oversight.
“Ensuring the individuals applying for the placard legitimately need the placard,” said Fernandez.
The auditors found roughly 26,000 permanent placards were issued for people 100 years old and over. But the problem is, the state’s population of people 100 or older is only 8,000.
“It’s pretty apparent that there is abuse going on,” said Walker with a shrug.
The audit calls for the DMV to establish goals for sting operations performed each quarter and develop a placard application database. Recommendations were also made for the legislature including requiring the DMV to seek the assistance of health boards and require the use of the federal death master file.
The DMV said in a statement on Tuesday that the organization has already begun implementing the recommendations made by the state including carrying out several sting operations in Southern California.
Fernandez says the Auditor’s office will follow up with the DMV in 60 days to see how the implementation of the recommendations is progressing.