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State Lawmakers Crack Down on Fraudulent Disabled Parking Placards

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SACRAMENTO-- Albert Shih is one of nearly three million California drivers with a disabled person parking placard.

"It definitely helps me because I'm handicapped," Shih said.

He has polio and the blue placard provides relief.

But lately, he and others say they're frustrated with a growing problem.

"I see young people they just park and I believe they're not disabled," said Theresa Bustamante.

"I've had my placard stolen never to be returned," said Linda Hinchey with Californians for Disability Rights.

Disability rights advocates insist the state's program needs to be fixed.

"We've been asking for this for 10 years," said Ruthee Goldkorn with Californians for Disability Rights.

Now lawmakers are taking action.

"We want to make sure the people who really need these placards are the ones receiving them," said Assembly member Eric Linder.

Assembly members Eric Linder and Mike Gatto have called for an audit of the DMV.

They say evidence shows people are abusing the state's disabled placard program.

"It's very easy to get a disability placard now. It could be as simple as taking it form a grandparent and it could be as simple as a not so ethical doctor approving application from someone who doesn't generally need it," said Gatto.

In Sacramento, fraud is limiting spaces for disabled drivers, says city Director of Government Affairs, Randi Knott.

"There was such a proliferation in fraud that people with actual disabilities didn't have anywhere to park," Knott said.

Knott tells FOX40 the number of placards in the county increased by over 120 percent between 1996 and 2006.

Gatto and Linder hope the audit identifies how many placards are fraudulent and how the DMV can improve it's procedures.

"The DMV takes abuse of Disabled Parking Placards very seriously because these products help ensure accessibility for more than two million disabled Californians. DMV will work with the State Auditor to review the administration of this program," said DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez in a written statement.