Students view ticketing as unfair; UPD claims its just doing its job


Alakananada Mookerjee

No experience at SDSU is complete without a trip to the University Police Department (UPD). Reason: Nearly every student has gotten at least one ticket during his or her time at SDSU.

According to Student Officer Supervisor Adam Kraninger, the number of tickets issued could vary anywhere between five and 25 an hour. On an average, each student officer writes about 40 tickets in the course of his or her two to four hour shift. UPD officials said that each week an average of 120 tickets are paid.

The great bulk of the tickets are issued for parking violations, though ones for moving violations are not uncommon. Violations for parking include everything from parking in an area designated “No Parking” to parking outside marked boundary to parking in a manner that obstructs a fire lane or traffic.

Students get ticketed at the drop of a hat for either hanging a wrong parking permit or not having one at all. The fine for most of these violations is $20, except in a few instances when it can jump several notches, such as parking in a parking slot marked “Handicapped Parking” ($100) or in a “Reserved Stall” ($50). In such cases, the owner of the illegally parked vehicle will not only be required to pay the fine, but the vehicle will be towed.

Moving violation tickets are issued for speeding, exhibition driving, reckless driving and running a stop sign. Penalties for these violations are more severe and involve state citations, unlike those issued for parking violations that are taken care of at the UPD level.

Any vehicle moving at a speed over the posted speed limit or the university limit of 25 miles per hour will be fined $3 for every mile per hour over, with a minimum fee of $24. The fine for exhibition, careless and reckless driving are $60, $90 and $120 respectively.

Although some students feel the UPD is unfair when they give out tickets, Chief Tim Heaton said that is their job.

“I know a lot get upset because of the tickets but that is the job I was given – to enforce laws of the State of South Dakota and the policies of SDSU,” he said. “Our job is to have no gray area. The policies are written down by the Traffic and Parking Committee that is comprised of faculty, staff and students.”

What happens if you don’t pay your tickets? An additional late fee of $3 will be added to each ticket not paid within 96 hours of its issuance. As per clause 4.4.9 of the SDSU Parking and Traffic Regulations handbook, unpaid tickets worth $50 or more will cause the vehicle to be towed and “all cost associated with the fine, towing and storage shall be the responsibility” of the vehicle owner. Also, the vehicle will not be released until the owner comes and pays all fines and fees.

But the UPD does have a grace period for late tickets.

“We have relaxed the regulations for the sake of students,” said Kelly Anawski, UPD office manager. “We don’t tow away cars until the students have unpaid ticket worth $100. If we’d towed away peoples’ cars just when they hit $50, we’d have pages and pages of people on the tow list.”

The money from tickets goes to SDSU’s Parking and Traffic Fund and is used for parking lot upkeep and UPD salaries.

“We get a specific amount every year from this fund that goes into paying some of the salaries. But our share of that money is fixed. It is not based on the number of tickets written or the number of vehicles that are on the tow list,” said Anawski.