Disabled placards are honored in every state

My question concerns disabled parking in Jackson County. Recently, my disabled mother came to visit from another state and I showed her around Medford. We stopped at the Rogue Valley Mall so that she could pick up something she needed while she was here and used her California disability placard to utilize one of the disability spots close to the doors. When we came out of the mall there was a warning on my windshield that disabled placards from other states are not acceptable here and offenders could be ticketed. What is the law concerning this and why is Jackson County so unwilling to accommodate out-of-state disabled individuals?

— Susan J.

Actually Susan, I think we're very accommodating. I don't know if it was our Jackson County disabled parking volunteers or Medford city's that left the warning, but I'm fairly sure the principle is the same for each agency, so let me explain.

In regard to disabled placards from other states, we honor all of them, providing the placard is valid in the state or jurisdiction in which it was issued. In other words, you can't use an expired placard from another state and expect it to be good here, just like you couldn't drive around with an expired driver's license from another state and expect Oregon police to honor that.

But, assuming that your mother's placard was in good order, then what you received was probably what we call a courtesy notice. Since neither you nor your mother was present at the time the volunteers checked your placard, then they had no way of verifying that your mother was just visiting and not living here in Oregon (your car has Oregon plates, correct?). If she was now a resident of Oregon then she would need to go down and get an Oregon placard.

Often people will move to Oregon and just keep their out-of-state placard, figuring they can use it until it expires, and then they'll go get an Oregon placard. That isn't the way it's meant to work and thus the courtesy notice on the chance (and it does happen often) that your mother had moved here and not gotten an updated placard. If she still lives in California then the warning wouldn't apply and you can just disregard the courtesy notice. The notice was only put there to make you aware of potential problems that some people run into and save you some headache down the line, not to accuse your mother of doing anything wrong.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.

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