If you think you can get away with parking in a handicapped spot when you are not really handicapped, guess again. If you or your passengers are not truly disabled, you can face criminal charges even if you have a disability placard hanging from your rear view mirror.
What is Illegal About it?
In New Jersey, a person who is not physically or mentally disabled, but uses a disability placard in order to park in a handicapped parking space is considered to be misrepresenting who he is (unless one of his passengers is disabled).
By hanging a handicapped placard from your mirror or driving in a car that has a handicapped license plate, you are holding yourself out to be something you are not while simultaneously taking away a spot from someone who genuinely needs it. Therefore, the New Jersey legislature and judiciary have determined that such conduct is unlawful. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4a, it is unlawful for a person to falsify, destroy, remove, or conceal any writing or record. Moreover, under that same law, it is also unlawful for a person to utter any writing or record while knowing that it contains a false statement or information with the purpose of deceiving or injuring a person or to conceal wrongdoing.
In New Jersey, driving around with the disability placard or license plate is considered “uttering” and (believe it or not) the placard or plate is considered a “writing” or “record” for the purpose of this law. Likewise, parking in a space you are not entitled to park in is the “wrongdoing” that you are “concealing” by using the handicapped placard or plate. This means illegally using or misusing disability placards in NJ violates N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4a.
Similarly, it is also a crime to make a false statement or give misinformation on an application in order to obtain or facilitate the receipt of license plates or placards for disabled individuals.
What is the Penalty?
If you are caught illegally using or misusing disability placards (i.e. violating N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4a), you could be convicted of a fourth degree crime. You could actually go to jail for up to 18 months and be forced to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Moreover, this offense will give you a criminal record and could impact your ability to secure a job. Ultimately, if you are charged with misusing or illegally using disability placards, make sure to contact an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid a conviction.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved was recently charged with illegally using or misusing disability placards, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of Rosenblum Law today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights and do what he can to have your criminal charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.