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State Begins Campaign to Crack Down on Drivers Misusing Disabled Parking Placards

SACRAMENTO -- Misusing a disabled placard is a crime, a DMV campaign reminds cheaters that they are taking parking spaces from those who really need them. The effort follows a crackdown on abuse.

"Just since April we've issued 1,600 citations across the state, and just last month we issued 555 during enforcement operations," said Jessica Gonzales, a spokesperson for the DMV.

The efforts follow a state auditor report saying the DMV doesn't keep good track of who gets the placards and why.

It has always been a tough job catching violators.

"It doesn't necessarily mean they're going to have a cane or a wheelchair," Gonzales said.

But the state auditor came up with some numbers that make no sense, including 26,000 drivers who have disabled parking placards who are over 100 years old.

"That number, well, it's wrong," said driver Bobby Coleman.

The auditor was just as suspicious as driver Coleman.

"I don't believe there's that many in California, I don't believe that," he said.

In fact, there may be just 8,000 Californians who are over 100 years old, and how many of those do you think drive?

The number of placards show that one in every nine drivers in California is disabled.

"I don't think so. That's a really crazy number when you think about it," said Tom Sagen, who works in midtown Sacramento.

The state auditor says some placards are assigned to dead people, some are issued to drivers without proper medical justification, and there is a high rate of lost and stolen placards that are easily replaced -- which can then be given away to relatives or friends.

Sagen says the truly handicapped and those playing by the rules get irked.

"Parking is so limited and then they find out, and it just makes it frustrating for everybody else," Sagen said.

A bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown backs up solutions by the auditor, including making it tougher to issue and reissue placards. It also calls for stepping up enforcement.