One in ten California drivers has disabled placard

by Walter Olson on February 4, 2013

But how many actually deserve one? [CBS Los Angeles via Alkon]

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02.09.13 at 1:34 pm

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1 John Burgess 02.04.13 at 8:29 am

I need one because my service donkey is aging and can’t walk long distances from the parking lot.

2 William Nuesslein 02.04.13 at 9:34 am

Some time ago the speed limit was 55 on Rt. 684, a beautiful limited access highway that goes from Brewster, NY to White Plains, NY, Seldom did anyone go less than 65, the reasonable speed. Cheating on disability parking rights might be telling us that the wheelchair labeled parking spots and other ADA mandates are excessive. I think they are.

3 Jim Collins 02.04.13 at 10:55 am

There’s a simple solution for this. Change the law so that the placard doesn’t mean free parking. Problem goes away overnight.

4 ps 02.04.13 at 11:34 am

give everyone a disabled sticker. That way we’re all equal.

5 Bill 02.04.13 at 12:12 pm

Do we not have an innumerate reporter here? If one in ten drivers have a handicapped placard, and some are clearly legitimate, how can twenty-five percent of drivers be abusing the system?

6 Leafs004 02.04.13 at 12:22 pm

The flipside to this is there are people who are legitimately handicapped, who often look OK, but who experience harassment from the fake handicap nazis who see it their job to stick their nose in something that isn’t their business.

7 mjs 02.04.13 at 12:29 pm

The proliferation of unwarranted disabled placards is obvious.

Rows of empty disabled parking spots used to be the norm at the mall. Now most are filled with drivers who are capable of leaving me in the dust in the race to the entrance.

8 Ron Miller 02.04.13 at 1:05 pm

Giving special consideration for handicapped people is what a civilized society does. Some people invariably abuse everything so the problem is the failure to restrain those abuses. But let’s no throw out baby with the bath water.

9 mjs 02.04.13 at 5:47 pm

Is the ADA evidence of a civilized society or a European styled advance welfare state?

10 wfjag 02.04.13 at 6:30 pm

“To qualify for placards, drivers must have a medical professional certify they have substantial impaired mobility, lung or cardiovascular disease or severe vision problems, according to the DMV.”

Ms. Alkon and the LA Times story leave some questions unanswered:

1. Is that 1 in 10 of all drivers, or only 1 in 10 of licensed drivers in California? (last time I checked, there were a lot of people driving out there who didn’t have driver’s licenses because they didn’t have proof of legal residency or citizenship. However, similar to a lack of liability insurance coverage, that didn’t seem to stop them from driving. Related to this is do you have to have a valid driver’s license to qualify for the disabled placard?;

2. The qualifications for the disabled placard look quite similar to those for getting a prescription for medical marijuana. This implies a form of “one-stop shopping”. Just wondering how much overlap there is for people getting Med MJ Rx’s and disabled placards (or, if anyone has any idea of this. If there is overlap, that might explain why so many people the reporter “found working out vigorously on treadmills and other workout machines at a chichi LA gym — after getting out of their cars they hung the disabled tags on.” After satisfying the munchies, you need to work off the excess calories. The purpose of Med MJ is “smoking your way back to health”, so we don’t want any muffin tops – expecially in the chichi areas of LA, where bad fashion is one of the few remaining capital offernses. Still, that may also imply that you don’t want to park close to someone with a disabled placard or walk anywhere near a car displaying one.); and,

3. Will this be covered by Obamacare? (including the gym membership?).

11 mf 02.04.13 at 8:05 pm

I’m ashamed to report that I had one sought one at one point. My shame is due to the fact that I had dislocated my kneecap, and thought I was going to need surgery, so when I went in for the first exam from the GP prior to the referral to the orthopedist, I asked him for the handicap tag. He signed off on it. I didn’t need surgery and never actually got the card, but quite frankly, as an otherwise very healthy, (then) mid-40’s man, getting around on crutches isn’t that difficult. Frankly, he should have put up a little resistance to my request (that I never should have made in the first place).

12 Leland D. Davis 02.04.13 at 10:26 pm

My father, in his old age, is not as spry as he used to be. He is able to walk – slowly. He has a handicapped placard. If you look at old people, sorry, senior citizens, in cars, a fairly high portion of them in Idaho have handicapped placards. Legitimately, they have trouble covering the distances that I do. They also don’t get out as much as I do. This situation used to be handled by common courtesy and custom, but now the law is involved. Right there, senior citizens are a substantial chunk of the population with driving priviledges.
Also common in Idaho, but not mandated by law, is “stork parking” at various commercial locations. Most people I know respect stork parking – it is for late pregnancy and people with new babies.

13 Ron Miller 02.05.13 at 10:34 am

I like how mf goes after his doctor or considering giving him a tag. Doctors want to help their patients. Not a necessarily helpful thing in this context but a good thing in the big scheme of things.

I agree that we could do a little better job of policing the handing out of these things. But to me, the Overlawyered idea is in part one that says geez, don’t sweat the small stuff. Your Subway sandwich is only 11 inches? Don’t eat it if you don’t like that. I don’t mind walking a bit further when I park because I think people who have a hard time getting from Point A to Point B deserve a closer space. Do I mind if a few deadbeats cheat and jump ahead in line? I do. But I don’t get too worked up about it because I’ve got far more pressing concerns.

14 Robert 02.05.13 at 6:35 pm

@Ron Miller: It would be fine except for the free parking. It’s one thing to give the benefit of the doubt to people who claim they have trouble walking long distances; it’s another to give them free parking!

15 David Schwartz 02.05.13 at 9:17 pm

It’s a lot harder for a handicapped person to get back to their car to put more money in the meter than it is for everyone else.

Also, try this challenge. Go up to a typical parking meter but put your body in the physical position of someone in a wheelchair. Now, try to read how much time is left on the meter, what the rates are, and what the enforcement hours are.

Lastly, I can pretty easily park a few blocks further from my destination to save money or to find meters that let me park for longer. That’s a lot harder for a handicapped person.

16 Rick 02.05.13 at 10:15 pm

“Now, try to read how much time is left on the meter, what the rates are, and what the enforcement hours are.”

Isn’t that a problem best solved by an ADA lawsuit…………?

17 David Schwartz 02.06.13 at 1:43 am

Rick: I think the bigger issue is that able bodied people can easily park a few blocks further away to find cheaper parking or longer term parking. This would be a major issue for many handicapped people.

If you want to try to knock down the problems one by one, be my guest. But there’s point in solving the small ones if you can’t solve the big ones.

18 gitarcarver 02.06.13 at 11:49 am

What I think we have all been skirting around is the fact that there are different “levels” of “disability.”

I don’t think that anyone here begrudges a person in a wheelchair, one that is blind, in need of a walker, etc., having a parking permit. The problem comes in where there are those who may have some trouble walking but are not at the same level of disability as others.

There is a difference in having a physical condition (real or imagined) that makes walking distances from a car an inconvenience and a condition that impedes walking a distance.

Here in Florida, doctors were giving out handicapped parking permits if patients asked for them. There was no accountability for the physician to actually say the patient needed the permit. A few years ago the legislature addressed the issue by changing the criteria for the permits as well as holding doctors accountable on the application for the permit.

It is a step in the right direction.

19 Jane 02.06.13 at 2:34 pm

It seems there are too many handicapped spaces. But on the other hand, people are so lazy; they’ll circle the lot forever looking for an open space closer up. I take what I can get and laugh at the fat people (not the handicapped people) all the way into the store.

20 Ron Miller 02.07.13 at 10:23 am

Gitarcarver, I actually think most everyone agrees with this. Clearly the system is being abused.

David, you taught me something about handicapped people and parking meters. Great point I never would have through of. But I also appreciate Robert’s point too. Because it is pretty annoying I’m sure when the guy is not in a wheelchair but broke his leg 4 years ago.

21 Frank 02.07.13 at 10:38 am

“I take what I can get and laugh at the fat people”

Good for you Jane. Fat people are funny and pathetic at the same time aren’t they. I like to laugh at people with acne.

22 NickM 02.07.13 at 7:16 pm

Based on the multiplicity of videos put out from tv news crews conducting investigations, the biggest problem appears to be with people using someone else’s placard – often, that of an elderly relative who hasn’t driven in years.

Prosecutions (and publicity given to them) look like the best solution there.

23 David Schwartz 02.08.13 at 4:14 am

@Ron: Just to be clear, I absolutely do agree that the system is badly broken in a large number of ways. Unfortunately, I also realize that most of the obvious easy fixes won’t actually work.

24 Ron Miller 02.11.13 at 9:44 am

David, you are saying the everyone in the world is not so stupid other than the person who is writing a blog post or making a comment?

Well, the Internet disagrees with you.

25 Scott 02.11.13 at 8:39 pm

It’s simple, get rid of the free parking and require an expiration date.

26 Tim Ozenne 02.11.13 at 11:37 pm

I would love to see a reporter actually investigate how often California checks on the validity of placards issued. I’ll guess almost no resources are spent on enforcement and, as a result, doctors hand out placards with little concern for how valid or long lasting a “disability” my be.

27 Bill 02.11.13 at 11:49 pm

At least in my area actually getting a placard takes multiple trips to the DMV, which is worse than a root canal. The temporary placards do have to be renewed (almost as much hassle as the original trip).

I wonder if the real issue is with lax issuance of permanent placards. And we should admit that once a placard is in someone’s hand, chances of being caught mistreating it are minimal.

When my mother died several years ago, DMV seemed startled and didn’t quite know what to do when I called them to find out how to surrender her card. So there’s another source of cards that should not be in circulation.

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