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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Contesting a parking ticket; not as easy as getting one

Parking tickets pile up for a student who does not have a parking pass. // Photo illustration by Claire Ott

By Chase Hilden

Finding parking on Western’s campus can be a major frustration even if you own a parking pass. Parking tickets are given out so frequently that there were more citations written on Western’s campus in 2018 than there were students attending the university that year.

In 2018, The Western Front reported that Western made $585,940 from parking tickets. They gave out approximately 44 tickets a day adding up to a total of 16,114 parking tickets.

Many drivers contest their tickets if they feel like their actions did not warrant the parking fine. Around 15 to 20 parking ticket appeals are made to Western’s Parking Appeals Board each day during the school year, according to Jackson Johnson, a fiscal specialist at the Student Business Center. 

To appeal a ticket, drivers must submit a request through the Student Business Office or online through the parking services’ website within seven days of the date of the citation, according to Ty Rucker, who works at the Parking Services Center.

The appeal must provide a complete explanation on why the driver thinks they do not deserve the ticket; the only valid basis for an appeal is an argument that the cited regulations were not violated according to Johnson.

Viktor Folke, a student at Western, had a severe allergic reaction on campus resulting in him going to the Student Health Center in April last year. He had already paid for parking that day but it expired while he was in the clinic. After Folke felt better, he came back to his car to find a parking ticket. Folke went online to the online parking website to explain his situation. When parking services got back to him, the ticket was not voided but reduced by $5. 

“There doesn’t seem to be a clear line about what you can get waived and not,” Folke said.

Folke’s ticket was not voided because the Parking Appeals Board decided that Western was not at fault. The Parking Appeals Board process considers whether anything is the university’s error according to Rucker. If there is no evidence pointing towards an error Western made in issuing a parking ticket, then the driver will most likely be denied for their appeal unless the driver can prove they made an error when buying the parking pass. 

“Citations are not waived or reduced in cases when we cannot identify types of legitimate mitigating circumstances,” Johnson said. “Forgetting to purchase a permit, parking for a brief amount of time in a fire lane or other similar cases do not result in reductions.”

Third-year Bassma Al-nighashi said she has gotten two parking tickets, the first for being 10 minutes over the time she had paid. The second ticket she got for failing to pay through the online portal as soon as she parked; Al-nighashi was running late to class and paid in the classroom, but got a ticket in the time that had elapsed. In both cases, Al-nighashi contested them and had them thrown out.

One of few ways to get a ticket vacated is if a person has already paid for parking but has made an error with payment or details related to their car.

“I used the app to pay for parking but had recently gotten a new license plate number, so I paid for the wrong license plate and got a ticket because it didn’t come up in the system that I paid,” Western student Genevieve Castle said. “I contested it and Western didn’t make me pay for the ticket.”

This is a clear example of driver error but the ticket was refunded because Castle had already paid for parking.  

“If someone gets rejected for the first appeal, they do have the option to send in another and then, in that case, they may need to be a little more specific as to what was happening,” Rucker said. 

The purpose of the second level of appeal is to determine whether the first level of appeal was processed within the university’s parking guidelines. This generally means that unless there was an error made during the first level of appeal, which is quite rare, most second-level appeals do not result in any sort of reduction. There are situations when new information is introduced in a second level appeal that the parker may not have believed to be initially relevant. 

“In those cases, sometimes this new information can result in the appeal being approved,” Johnson said.

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