State to crack down on dis­abled per­mit fraud

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By KatyMur­phy kmur­phy@ba­yarea news­group.com Con­tact KatyMur­phy at 916-441-2101.

SACRAMENTO » Gam­ing a pro­gram for driv­ers with dis­abil­i­ties is about to get much harder un­der a new Cal­i­for­nia law set to take ef­fect in Jan­uary, start­ing with one com­mon-sense-mea­sure: us­ing fed­eral data to help de­ter­mine which dis­abled park­ing per­mit-hold­ers have died.

Se­nate Bill 611, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D- San Ma­teo, came in re­sponse to an April state au­dit re­veal­ing that as many as 35,000 park­ing plac­ards is­sued to Cal­i­for­ni­ans whom the So­cial Se­cu­rity Death Mas­ter File listed as de­ceased were still in use.

The au­dit also showed that there­was no limit on the num­ber of re­place­ment per­mits that could be or­dered fromthe Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles, and that nine peo­ple or­dered 16 or more from 2013 to 2016. A pre­vi­ous re­port fromthe state au­di­tor re­vealed that 26,000 plac­ard-hold­ers were over the age of 100, though Cal­i­for­nia had just 8,000 cen­te­nar­i­ans in 2014.

SB 611, which in­cor­po­rated a num­ber of au­dit rec­om­men­da­tions, passed unan­i­mously in both houses. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the mea­sure into law on Wed­nes­day.

“We must block scofflaws and fraud­sters from gam­ing the DMV’s plac­ard and li­cense plate pro­gram for driv­ers with dis­abil­i­ties and en­sure that the mo­torists who need this im­por­tant pro­gram have ac­cess to its ben­e­fits,” Hill wrote in a state­ment. “These changes to state law, along with changes re­cently made by the DMV, will go a long way to­ward re­duc­ing fraud and abuse.”

Un­der the bill: • The DMV is re­quired to con­duct quar­terly au­dits of ap­pli­ca­tions and to work with state health boards tomake sure they are ac­cu­rate. • All per­ma­nent plac­ard hold­ers must re­new their per­mits every six years. This re­quire­ment does not ap­ply to li­cense plate hold­ers. • Ap­pli­cants must pro­vide proof of their name and date of birth. • The num­ber of re­place­ment plac­ards that can be is­sued in a two-year pe­riod— once un­lim­ited— will be lim­ited to four.

FILE THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cal­i­for­nia state au­di­tor Elaine Howle said the state gives dis­abled park­ing per­mits to peo­ple who don’t pro­vide enough med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion to prove they need one.

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