Drivers who use handicap spots without a placard or permit, park in the wrong designated area for handicap parking, or fraudulently use one of these permits, face stiff penalties under Florida law. Many permit holders also suffer consequences for allowing unauthorized use of their handicap parking privileges.
Law enforcement understands that people can mistakenly use these privileges or even forget a placard or tag is on the vehicle. A large number of Orlando families rely on these privileges to assist a disabled or elderly family member and forget only to use it when directly transporting the permit holder.
A Florida DMV issues handicap placards and permits to drivers that suffer from all kinds of disabilities and conditions. State law is particular about these health issues when qualifying someone for a handicap parking permit.
Some common conditions that qualify include:
Verification of a driver’s qualifying condition is also heavily regulated by state law. According to State Statute 320.0848, a certificate must be provided by a physician or practicing nurse under a licensed physician’s protocols. Because of these strict measures to ensure those who apply for handicap permits are legitimate, it’s essential that all drivers understand these requirements. This not only protects the disabled driver using the permit but also their friends or relatives who might be transporting them.
A non-handicapped driver can only park or use designated handicapped areas when transporting a disabled person or trying to find a parking spot after dropping off the placard holder. It’s never acceptable to buy, sell, copy or loan one of these permits.
When a driver illegally uses, sells, steals, or forges a handicap placard or permit, the penalties imposed by the court are severe. Compared to a first-time DUI conviction, the consequences might be even harsher for those breaking Florida’s handicap parking laws.
If a person commits any of the following actions, they are in direct violation of regulations and may face charges.
False and/or misleading application. Those who purposely submit deceptive or untrue information to obtain a handicap parking permit face a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the defendant’s sentence may include up to one year in jail and a fine to not exceed $1,000.
Unauthorized or fraudulent use. If an individual uses the privileges of a handicap parking placard and is not transporting the disabled permit holder, it is a second-degree misdemeanor offense. This includes intentional acts of deception. A fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to 6 months are possible.
In addition to these consequences, the disabled permit holder may receive charges as well. State Law requires states that handicap parking placards be confiscated and note this occurrence on the authorized holder’s record. This confiscation is permanent once convicted of the charges, and the permit holder will be unable to apply for a new permit for four years.
Florida also demands that the Department of Child and Family Services investigate a handicap permit holder’s living situation if two or more violations occur. A sad truth in many Central Florida communities is the abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation of a disabled individual’s handicap parking placard and permits. Law enforcement uses this investigation of multiple violations to ensure that none of those things are happening to the disabled driver. Furthermore, medical professionals such as doctors and nurses can lose jobs and medical students or college students may be prevented from getting their medical or nursing license.
If charged with illegal use of handicap parking privileges, it’s important to seek counsel immediately. The possible sentences for this violation are severe and may cause long-term consequences for you and your disabled family member you assist. Fines, jail time, and confiscation of the placard can cause hardships you never considered possible.
The Umansky Law Firm has a team of former prosecutors who understand how the court will approach your case. Our over 100 years of combined experience works in your favor to build a strong defense for your situation. We understand mistakes happen and that everyone deserves a second chance. Contact us today so we can protect not only your rights but that of your disabled friend or family member who relies on your support.
Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney