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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I have had a current Handicapped placard last four years. I

Customer Question

Customer: My name is Tim ****. I have had a current Handicapped placard for the last four years. I was cited for displaying an 'altered' placard on Dec 2, 2015. I read (on a CA state website re: placards) that you could use a 'REASONABLE FACSIMILE THEREOF" in a second car. I had an expired placard that displayed the valid year as 2015. I simply put a white folder tab over the year space on the placard, and then wrote in the space 2017. If that is not a 'reasonable facsimile thereof' then I don't know what is !!! What options do I have? Thank you for your attention to this matter.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: I was parked in a Handicapped space in the Home Depot parking lot, with my altered placard displayed. When I came of the store 10 minutes later the "parking" officer had cited me. I attempted to explain the altered placard, she made no attempt to listen to me and rudely demanded that I give her the placard, which I did after she threatened to tow my car if I didn't give her the placard. The officer told me this was a felony and a serious citation. That was it, she left and I left. I do have a witness who was present for the whole event
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Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

Hello,

Can you please provide the Vehicle Code citation number, so that I'm certain that I'm reviewing the applicable law?

Thanks in advance.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
CVC 22507.8(a), 13a disabled parking
Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

Thanks. Give me a few minutes to review the issue.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

I'm back, but before I answer, can you provide me with the url to the website displaying the "reasonable facsimile thereof" language? I tried to google it, without success.

Thanks again.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I looked for it myself, but was unable to find it. The last time I saw it was more than two years ago.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

Okay, thanks.

I think what you may have observed previously is that a "reasonable facsimile of the wheelchair symbol" may be used, in some state jurisdictions. When I google, "reasonable facsimile wheelchair symbol", I find that Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, and Connecticut provide this language in connection to the use of the international wheelchair symbol in providing pubic notice of the availability of various ADA accommodations.

Unfortunately, I find nothing like this language for California.

Assuming that the language you recall doesn't exist, then your case in traffic court can't rely on the language, except as it relates to your intent to defraud for purposes of that felony that the law enforcement officer was discussing.

Vehicle Code 4463(a) makes it a felony where a person "Alters, forges, counterfeits, or falsifies a certificate of ownership, registration card, certificate, license, license plate, device issued pursuant to Section 4853, special plate, or permit provided for by this code...." -- but, only if the person has the "intent to prejudice, damage, or defraud." So, you have a defense to this allegation. Also, I don't believe you were actually cited for a felony, because if you were, the officer would have arrested you on the spot. I think the officer was trying to scare you, and only cited you for the traffic offense: VC 22507.8(a).

That said, you apparently violated the law by displaying your "reasonable facsimile." Section 22507.8(a) provides: " It is unlawful for any person to park or leave standing any vehicle in a stall or space designated for disabled persons and disabled veterans pursuant to Section 22511.7 or 22511.8 of this code or Section 14679 of the Government Code, unless the vehicle displays either a special identification license plate issued pursuant to Section 5007 or a distinguishing placard issued pursuant to Section 22511.55 or 22511.59."

My experience with these types of issues is that if you explain what you were doing, and acknowledge that you made a really dumb error -- but, that you have a current, valid handicapped placard, and that had you realized you were not entitled to display a reasonable facsimile, you would have displayed the valid placard and not the fake.

I'm betting that the judge will dismiss the case in the interests of justice, because the entire point of these laws is to protect handicapped persons -- not to punish them.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

Hello again,

I see that you have reviewed my answer, but that you have not provided a rating. Do you need any further clarification concerning my answer, or is everything satisfactory?

If you need further clarification, concerning this matter, please feel free to ask. If not, I would greatly appreciate a positive feedback rating for my answer -- otherwise I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

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