Teachers and students fake handicap parking placards to find spots easier

Travis Pastori and Travis Pastori

In the never-ending battle for Campus parking, some students and staff members resort to deception and forgery to take parking spots away from the handicap and injured.

This semester Campus Security has reported nine incidents involving the theft, misuse, and alterations of handicap placards. Vehicles were booted and placards were confiscated, said Eric Fricke, head of Campus Security.

“The problem is when someone abuses a placard they are taking away a spot from someone who needs it,” Fricke said.

He hears a wide range of excuses from abusers with placards that don’t belong to them; some claim injuries to justify using them, others say they are the driver of the placard’s owner. Other times they admit they were wrong but were having a hard time finding another place to park.

According to the reports, some expired temporary handicap placards have been altered to show to different expiration dates.

Fricke said the DMV punches a hole on the placard’s expiration date and the forger will punch a hole on a future date, filling in the previous hole. Other incidents have involved stolen placards being used.

A security officer who is suspicious of a placard will run the plate of the vehicle to identify the owner and then the number on the placard. This process usually provides enough evidence.

“If the vehicle is registered to a student and the placard is registered to someone who was born in 1930, it’s obvious,” Fricke said.

When a vehicle is found in violation it is booted until the student returns and pays a school fine to remove the boot. The case is then turned over the DMV, he said.

According to the DMV website, a person who misuses a placard can be fined up to “$3,500 or imprisonment up to six months, or both.”

The abuse of handicap placards is not the only method some people use to take spots from others in need. Many fake injuries and request medical parking passes from kiosk employees and DSPS.

James Robert, 23, works in the East Campus parking kiosk. He said he has had numerous examples of students and staff members pretending they are injured so he’ll give them a medical pass.

The first time someone claims an injury he is required to give grant the pass, but the next time they are referred to DSPS to make the request, he said.

“They get irritated and come back,” Robert said, “and magically expect me to give them a pass.”

He added that it’s “a little shocking” when the person behaving this way is a teacher.