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How to avoid a parking violation

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Twenty-five dollars can buy a lot. A new movie, a used video game, a decent night out, or a heck of a lot of food at Wendy’s in the Union. However, those who commit parking violations on campus will not be spending it on any of those sought-after niceties. They will be paying it, and possibly more, to the University-funding various campus services.

So how does one avoid getting a ticket? The answer to that question may be a little more complicated than the average campus parker thinks. The obvious answer is following all parking and traffic regulations, but even if one is found in violation they may still be able to appeal the ticket-they may not have to pay a dime.

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Many consequences

The consequences of violating parking regulations on campus are many, including fines, which can range from $5 to $250. Such fines can be assessed several times over, depending on how long it takes for the violator to become compliant. Vehicles can even be towed.

In the end, violators may end up paying several hundred, even several thousand dollars. For students, this may mean a hold is placed on their bursar account where the tickets are billed. They will not be able to register for classes, visit the student recreation center or graduate.

“We don’t want to give tickets and we don’t want to tow vehicles, but we have no way of maintaining compliance without enforcing the violations,” public safety director James Wiegand said, adding that the University tows vehicles as a last resort.

A last resort situation may occur when vehicles undermine the public’s safety (such as those unattended in a fire lane), when they block in University vehicles, when they prevent the University from completing essential repairs or when it is associated with multiple unpaid violations.

Other consequences of invalid parking include preventing visitors from finding a place to park and impeding the flow of traffic.

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The Rules

Thankfully, avoiding the reception of a ticket is as simple as following the University’s regulations, which are given to on-campus parkers when they receive their permit and also available from the Parking and Traffic Office in the Commons and on the Web at bgsu.edu/offices/safety/parking/.

If a vehicle is parked on campus in anything but a metered space it must already have been properly registered with Parking and Traffic, and the permit issued based on that registration must be displayed properly at all times.

There are several different types of permits, each associated with a different color of lot. The lots are either lettered for faculty and staff or numbered for students, and such designations are displayed on signs placed around each lot.

A campus map displaying the designation and location of each lot can be obtained from the Parking and Traffic Office or online at bgsu.edu/map/.

All standard permits cost $55 a year or $31 a semester. Green permits are for faculty and staff, red permits are for commuting students and blue permits are for on-campus students.

There are also work permits for on-campus students needing to park in a lot closer than 6 or 12, evening permits for students arriving after 4:30 p.m., long-term guest permits, one to five week temporary permits, one day visitor permits and a variety of other permits for emeritus faculty, hall directors and other mission-critical staff of the University.

All permit holders are required to park in their designated lots, but of course, there are exceptions. For instance, faculty and staff may park in commuter lots when there are no spaces available in their designated lots.

Furthermore, like most lots, metered lots are available on nights and weekends to all. They are only enforced from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Similarly, but with a few exceptions, faculty and staff lots are open to all permits from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and all weekend. The exceptions include the east side of lot K and the north side of lot G, which are reserved at all times for faculty and staff, and lots C and S, which are enforced until 9 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

Commuter lots, however, are closed 3 to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. This means that those not holding a commuter pass may park in commuter lots during the week in the evenings after 5 p.m. until 3 a.m., but may park there overnight during the weekend.

So, for the most part, parking on campus is a free-for-all over the weekend and during the evenings. Students who normally have their vehicles parked in Lot 6 overflow can dust them off and bring them to campus in order to visit their off-campus friends or see a movie at the Woodland Mall.

Another regulation to be aware is parking only in marked, designated and non-reserved spaces. If the space does not have two white lines, then it is not a designated space. If the space is labeled reserved, parking there may also lead to a ticket.

Parking in any non-designated space could lead to a $250 handicap violation, $50 fire lane violation or $25 overtime in loading/unloading zone violation, which can be billed every 20 minutes. If the space is metered then the fee is $10, billable every hour. Backing in to a metered, reserved or angled space can result in an additional $5 fine.

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Do not pay, Appeal

There are many regulations to remember, and a few are vague. For instance, a marked, designated space is defined as one with white lines, but lot 6 overflow has no lines at all.

If one received a ticket for failing to park in a designated space in the overflow lot, then they might consider appealing it. Parking administrator Stacie Enriquez suggests that parkers should appeal if they have been unjustly ticketed or ticketed in error, but junior Aaron Robinson holds a different view.

“I don’t see why you wouldn’t appeal. You aren’t going to get punished more for an appeal,” he said. “Filling out a form and going to a 10 minute meeting is worth 20 bucks to me. Compared to a lot of other processes on campus it is not a lot of paperwork either.”

The appeals process varies for each permit holder, but it is the responsibility of the violator to initiate the process within 21 days after the ticket was issued.

Visitors appeal a ticket by contacting the Parking and Traffic Office at 419-372-2776. Faculty, staff and graduate students appeal to the University Appeals Committee by filling out an appeal form that is available in the Parking and Traffic Office.

Students, on the other hand, appeal to other students. Parking appeals for undergraduates are conducted by the Undergraduate Student Government’s Procedures and Appeals Branch, led by Chief Administrator Josie Miller.

“We are here for the students, we see eye to eye with them. So I do encourage the students to come in with a legit reason. Sometimes there were errors or it was truly a mistake. However, saying ‘I didn’t want to pay the meter, or lot 6 was too far to walk,’ that’s not legit,” she said.

Undergraduate appeals also begin with an appeals form, which can be obtained from the Parking and Traffic Office or on the USG Web site at bgsu.edu/studentlife/organizations/usg/.

The form collects basic information about the student, the instance in which the violation occurred and the reason for the appeal. The form gets turned in to the Office of Student Life, which is located in room 301 of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

When the form is turned in the student may either schedule an appointment during the appeal times, which are Mondays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., or choose to have the appeal done in absentia without meeting the appeals board.

All appeals have three outcomes: accepted, which means the fine is taken away, reduced and denied. Every year approximately 12 percent of tickets are appealed, resulting in a calculated $83,000 in savings for parkers.

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What is the money for?

All in all the University issues 40,000 tickets a year, about half of which are parking meter violations. Revenue collected from tickets is projected to be nearly $700,000 this year.

From the sale of permits and money collected from parking meters, the University projects generating $845,000 this year. This stems from the sale of around 15,300 long-term permits.

According to Wiegand, the money is spent in several ways.

It provides the $450,000 necessary to operate the shuttle service that gives rides to half a million people every year. It pays the salaries of various employees in the Department of Public Safety, including the parking and traffic enforcement officers. It also allows for the repair of parking lots, and the utilities bill for the Parking and Traffic Office.

Despite the fact that her office is supported by the tickets, Enriquez would rather they were never issued. In fact, ensuring they are not issued is her job.

“We don’t want to issue tickets. Everyone should park where they are supposed to park so that we are not issuing tickets. That’s the ultimate goal, parking compliance.”

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