California Auditor: Disabled Parking Permits Need Scrutiny

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California gives disabled parking permits to people who don’t provide enough medical information to prove they need one, state auditor Elaine Howle said in a report released Tuesday.

The report also says the Department of Motor Vehicles has not canceled permits for about 35,000 people who are probably dead.

The state auditor reviewed about 100 approved applications and found nearly three in four did not adequately describe the disability. Nearly one in five included a medical provider’s signature that didn’t match the one on file with the licensing health board.

The DMV issues disabled permits in the form of placards and license plates. They allow people to park in disabled spaces and for free in metered spaces. They also exempt people from time limits on spaces.

The benefits of a disabled parking permit “create a significant incentive for misuse,” Howle wrote in the report.

The “DMV does not sufficiently ensure that applications for placards or plates are legitimate,” Howle wrote. “Consequently, DMV may be allowing people to fraudulently obtain placards.”

Howle’s office found that the name and date of birth for nearly 35,000 placard holders matched entries in federal death records. The office also found 26,000 active placard holders were 100 years old or older, but only about 8,000 people in that age group live in California.

The audit found that local entities issuing parking tickets don’t have immediate access to DMV placard information, limiting their ability to determine if placards are valid.

Lawmakers should require the department to audit its approval process four times a year, the report said. The Legislature should also require the DMV to check federal death records and cancel permits for people who have died, according to the report.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the DMV said the department agrees with the audit’s recommendations. As a result, the DMV is stepping up its efforts to crack down on fraudulent use of disabled placards, the spokeswoman said.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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