By Aletheia Meloncon
By Aletheia Meloncon
The Riverside Campus Police and the Department of Motor Vehicles Enforcement Investigators have joined forces to monitor the illegal use of disabled parking at all three campuses in the Riverside Community College District.
The collaboration was established to target the improper use of someone else’s disabled person parking placard that is issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. What they discovered was a startling revelation.
According to Sergeant Richard Henry of the RCCD Campus Police at Riverside, in the spring of 2008 nine people were caught using the disabled spaces fraudulently in one eight-hour shift.
Of those nine people, two had suspended licenses and one driver did not have a license.
“The reason that we started doing this was to try and get an accurate count of how many disabled parking spaces are really needed,” Henry said. “But what we have discovered is that there are a lot of people parking in disabled parking when they are not supposed to.”
What many students may not realize is that parking in disabled parking is a misdemeanor.
While the violator usually only receives a ticket to appear in court or a fine, it can go on your driving record. Students have had their misdemeanor come up in background checks for jobs.
Some students on campus feel that if a student wants a parking place they should manage their time better.
“I leave early so that I can find a better parking space,” student Amy Wu said.
“I am trying to prevent students and anyone parking fraudulently in disabled parking from getting caught up in this and having problems later on,” Henry said. “They don’t realize the consequences of their actions until it comes back to haunt them.”
According to department guidelines, “it is considered a misuse: to display a placard unless the disabled owner is being transported, to display a placard which has been cancelled or revoked, to loan your placard to anyone, including family members.”
The guidlines also state that “the violation is a misdemeanor of Section 4461(c) VC and can result in cancellation or revocation of the placard, loss of parking privileges and/or fines.”
This is a statewide law, but many still disregard the law by parking in the disabled spaces.
Henry advised that the fine, which starts at $250 and can go as high as $1,000, can also lead to six months in county jail.
“Students and faculty can expect to get checked randomly in the future when they park in the disabled spaces by an officer (sic),” Henry said.
Upon request, students and faculty must be able to show a valid driver’s license along with the Department of Motor Vehicles issued placard identification card.
“Many people come on campus and park in disabled parking because it is closer to their classes, or wherever they need to go,” Henry said.
Many hope they will not be discovered and will try their luck until it runs out. Others drive around until they find student and faculty parking.
First-year student Steven Zuniga feels that disabled parking is clear about who it is for.
“It’s wrong for anyone to park in the disabled spaces,” Zuniga said. “Disabled students need the advantage of being able to park as close to campus (sic). They can’t do that if someone takes their place illegally.”
For those who might drive by a disabled parking and consider taking the risk, think twice, lest you choose the possibility to have it come back and bite you.