Handicapped Policy: Disabled Driver Fighting Newport Beach Over Parking Ticket

Categories: Court, Ride Me
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A disabled man has been fighting the city of Newport Beach for more than a year over a ticket he received for parking in a handicapped spot without displaying the proper placard.

Christopher Torri, a 44-year-old file clerk from Orange who has multiple sclerosis, said he was hit with the $427 ticket on Nov. 3, 2010 after  a police traffic officer cited him for parking in the handicapped space in front of a law office he works at near Fashion Island


According to Torri, who uses a walker, the placard identifying him as disabled fell from view and got lodged under a seat, but the officer decided not to look into the car or ask anyone if they knew the driver.

"I can't see traffic enforcement for Newport Beach being that busy that he couldn't take the time to do something like that for a $430 ticket," Torri said.

Torri is fighting City Hall, where he says he has been met with "intractable" attitudes and a lack of critical thinking.

"They're being hard-nosed," he said.

But according to an email Torri received from Councilman Edward Selich, city staff reviewed Torri's case, with the finance director informing Selich that the city  has taken extra measures to assist him:

"My revenue division has provided the details, listed below, of all events to assist Mr. Christopher Torri with his parking citation.  In my opinion, the City has provided extra assistance to Mr. Torri to not only lower his initial violation, but also provide him with an administrative hearing with an independent hearing officer (without charge) and individual personal assistance throughout the several month ordeal.  The independent hearing officer upheld the City's actions and her findings are also listed for your information below.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions."

Selich also told Torri he received the following summary from city staff, including mention of the ticket being reduced to $43:

"If Mr. Torri is complaining about Citation Number W13714605,  Revenue staff is pretty familiar with him.  He was issued his ticket by the police department on November 3, 2010.  The original violation was for $427.00, for parking in a handicap spot without a placard (California Vehicle Code Section 22507.8(a)), but this amount was later reduced, by the City, to $43.00 on July 13, 2011, for failure to display (NBMC Section 12.46.040).  He ignored our request for more information on his original appeal (we needed copies of his placard and ID), but we allowed him to go to review a second time 9which is an exception to our normal procedure), so he could provide that information. Caryl personally walked out to his car with him, photocopied his documents, and brought them back to his car so he wouldn't have to take extra steps.

He was permitted to go through hearing without paying for the citation by signing the indigent waiver form. 

The hearing decision was mailed on September 19, 2011.  He had 30 days from that date to appeal to Superior Court.

This was the hearing letter mailed to him on September 19, 2011:

Dear CHRISTOPHER TORRI,

An Administrative Hearing took place on 9/19/11 as requested on the citation listed below.  The facts presented on the citation in addition to any statements and materials submitted with the Request for Review or presented at the Hearing have been examined by Ms. Sherman.  Based upon the facts and  information provided, the results are as follows:

Citation number: W137146405  - Issue date: 11/03/2010 

The citation was issued because the vehicle was parked in a handicapped space without displaying a placard.  Respondent provided a copy of his placard and matching identification card.  He testified that the placard fell and got lodged under the seat.  He was late for work and did not have time to dislodge it. He placed the identification card on the dashboard. This City, at the first level of review, reduced the penalty from $427.00 to a $43.00 failure to display.

Respondent also testified that  it is not fair to impose any fine, when he has a valid placard.  According to Respondent, his vehicle is distinctive.  He parks in the same area for work every day and finds it hard to believe that the officer did not recognize his vehicle.  Respondent provided photographs of City vehicles parked in red zones.  He believes that it is unfair for the City to require any penalty from him when its vehicles are illegally parked, as shown in his photographs.

The citation is valid.  The handicapped placard must be displayed from the rear view mirror.  Possession of a placard is not sufficient to claim a parking privilege.  The City has reduced the violation and the penalty with proof that Respondent has a valid placard.  Evidence that other vehicles park illegally does not excuse this violation.  There is no basis to further reduce the penalty.

Should you be dissatisfied with the outcome of this Administrative Hearing, under California Vehicle Code section 40230, you may seek review of this decision by filing an appeal and paying the applicable filing fees to the court listed below within 30 days of the mailing date of this notice. (10/19/11)

Contact: Superior Court of California, County of Orange

           Harbor Justice Center - Laguna Hills Facility

           23141 Moulton Parkway   

            Laguna Hills, Ca 92653"


Selich told Torri: "Although, I probably would have been more sympathetic to your situation if I were the hearing officer  it seems to me the $43 fine is a reasonable settlement to the issue and that you were not treated unfairly."

Still, Torri said he is being penalized for being disabled.

"On a bigger point I was trying to make, every step along the way, I've met with resistance and nobody really listened to what I had to say..." he said. "Going back and forth, for them to figure out what to charge me with...that is arbitrary and totally wrong."

Torri said he is fighting the reduced ticket on principle, because he can see other disabled people running into the same problem with City Hall, and most people don't know how to deal with a person who has a disability.

"They have to make a federal case out of it," he said. "I'm  not just going to give in to them roll over whatever you call it."



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17 comments
minkie100
minkie100

The state of California VC 40226 limits an agency to no more than $25.00 fine for "failure to display handicap placard."  I think this is a reasonable amount.  On the other hand , I have been caring for my disable mother for 10 years and have forgotten to place the placard up a couple of times and have had to pay the fine.  In Montebello, CA they charge an unbelievable fee of $70 for the failure to show the placard which I think is totally outrageous.  I am outraged by this as many senior citizens are forgetful and living on fixed incomes and then have to pay this fee.  Sooner or later, we will all be there, an elderly person driving and/or someone driving us and having to pay an exorbitant fee of $70 for forgetting to hang a placard is extortion and unjustified.  

Parking
Parking

I cant really understand that why food trucks to be banned from parking at schools in California.Can yon tell me the exact reason.

Traffic ticket Toronto
Traffic ticket Toronto

If I were a judge I would definitely disable the traffic ticket of this man...OK, he forgot to display his card, but considering his condition I would consider that a human mistake and cancel the ticket...whoever gave him the ticket was respecting the law and it wasn't his fault that the card was not displayed.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

This basically turned into a fix-it ticket at 10% of the cost. I think the outcome is fair... and I bet he remembers to check to make sure the hangtag is on the mirror now.

Guest
Guest

He shouldn't have to follow the rules. Why should he? I'd say he was very lucky to get it reduced in the first place. He should have to pay the $43 for just being too lazy to get the thing from under his seat. How long does that take anyway?

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

I'm going to side with NB on this one.  They reduced his fine to the corresponding violation.  Case closed.  

Guest
Guest

I bet you remember to check to make sure you wiped off Jeff's chin before leaving the stall.

Guest
Guest

 Calling you a "tard" would be an insult to tards everywhere.

Ronnie
Ronnie

Too lazy? Are you even vaguely familiar with MS?

909Jeff
909Jeff

Yeah... Pay the 43 bucks and STFU!  

909Jeff
909Jeff

Yep and if he can drive a car he can follow the rules and the rules say.. If the glove don't fit you must acquit... wait wrong rules... He has to have the placard showing that's the bottom line... 

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Honestly, I personally am on the fence about this one. However, if this man has the physical and mental faculties to drive and be gainfully employed why couldn't he have taken the time to retrieve the handicapped placard? I'm sure he must have had some inkling of the fine for a missing or improperly displayed placard, right?

Guest
Guest

 PBR avatar and 909... I think that says it all. 

Render
Render

 Hey, dumb-ass... the guy obviously isn't like everyone else (unless everyone else is disabled too--otherwise we wouldn't have needed the ADA).  What rules does everyone else have to follow that apply here, exactly?

Render
Render

You are such a tool.   How could someone with a disability have the balls to complain about anything, right?  People with disabilities have it so dialed in... a disability is such a gift.

Guest
Guest

Exactly. I'm not saying he should be allowed to park in the handicap space, just follow the rules. Like everyone else.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Another sucker.... 

Thanks for playing you truly showed your ignorance today! 

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