On Tuesday, local DMV investigators looked for drivers using disabled parking placards at shopping centers in San Diego, Santee, Chula Vista and Poway.
Of the 369 people investigators found displaying a disabled placard, investigators said 16 of them were doing so fraudulently and were issued misdemeanor citations.
Kevin Amir was found using a placard issued to his relative in Orange County. He displayed the placard outside a Santee Walmart.
He told NBC 7 Investigates, “The fact is, I did something wrong and I am getting cited for it. The lesson learned is not do this type of stuff anymore.”
Rosa Pineda was cited for altering a friend's expired placard outside a Costco in Santee. She said, she didn’t know it was illegal.
She told NBC 7 Investigates, “It's fine, you learn everyday.”
Amir and Pineda must appear in court to face possible fines that range from $250 to $1,000.
Nearly three million drivers in California have disabled parking placards.
NBC 7 Investigates first revealed disabled placard abuse in downtown San Diego, two years ago. See original story here.
Our undercover investigation found state and city employees parking for free, using placards not issued to them.
After our story aired, the City Council approved a new ordinance increasing the penalty for drivers using a disabled placard issued to someone else.
California Assemblymen Eric Linder and Mike Gatto requested a Department of Motor Vehicle audit last year because rampant abuse of the disability parking placard system starts with the DMV, they said.
Gatto said after seeing news stories like the one NBC 7 Investigates, he wanted more to be done. See story here.
Today, the results of that report were released. The California State Auditor issued a critical report on the DMV's disabled placard program.
The State Auditor looked at a small sample, 96 applications, but found that 70 of them did not include enough medical information to confirm the applicant qualifies for a placard.
The Auditor found the DMV "does not sufficiently review applications" to ensure they are legitimate. And that DMV issues renewal placards to "thousands of placard holders who are likely deceased."
Among some of its recommendations? The Auditor wants the DMV to:
- Establish goals regarding the number of sting operations it performs
- Develop a database of other technology to allow local parking enforcement officials to have access to placard status information
- Conduct quarterly audits of placard applications
A spokesperson from the DMV say the agency agrees with those recommendations, and promises to make those improvements, provide more staff training, create a public awareness campaign, and make it easier for the public to report placard abuse.
The auditor says some of the improvements must be made this year and the rest by December 2018. Read full audit report here.