If you've ever been to Beverly Hills and noticed that every other car on the street has a handicap parking permit, you're not alone. In fact, the Beverly Hills Police Department is on the case and, according to one report, your worst suspicions might be true.

The Beverly Hills Courier reported last week that the local police department is looking into misuse of state-issued handicap placards. The department is actually conducting sting operations to determine if folks with the blue permits actually have them legally. In other words, those people who park in the right-in-front handicap spot might be subject to questioning, especially if they skip, run and bounce away from their cars.

What's more, the paper cites at least one source who says doctors in the area might be helping well-heeled patients secure handicap permits so they can park close to the doctors' offices (and, ahem, keep the customers happy).

Some merchants in Beverly Hills are fed up with the misuse of the placards, which allow unlimited parking, without feeding meters, almost anywhere except alongside red curbs. Even in Beverly Hills neighborhoods that restrict overnight parking, cars with such permits are exempt.

While police warn that not every sprightly person who skips away from a car with a blue tag hanging from its mirror is misusing a handicap permit — some patients have disabilities that aren't manifest in obviously physical ways — former mayor and current city councilman Barry Brucker says he's seen an unusual amount of placards freeloading along one Beverly Hills street — he counts 25.

It's an issue that affects pretty much all of Southern California, and if the BHPD finds that local doctors are giving placards out like candy, you can bet other cities will be taking a closer look at their handicap-parking scenes.

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