An expensive parking ticket inside a glaring yellow envelope stuffed under a windshield wiper. It’s an exasperating sight that nearly every student on campus has been confronted with at one point or another.
Luckily, if students believe a parking citation is in error, they have the opportunity to request an appeal review through UNM Parking and Transportation Services up to five days after receiving the ticket. After this time the fee will be transferred to the student’s bursar account.
“Even if you have a prior history, it’s worth making an appeal if you have a valid reason,” said PATS Director Barbara Morck.
There are two levels of citation appeals: the first is the initial request, and the second is an in-depth administrative review. If someone has a first-time citation it will likely be reduced to a warning, Morck said. A serious offense that violates state law, such as parking in a fire lane, will likely not be approved, however. Repeat history of the same offense will also likely not be forgiven.
“We have to draw a line somewhere for pay station appeals,” she said. “Maybe it’s two minutes after expiration, maybe it’s five or 10. What’s more expired than not? We pretty much hold it at ‘expired time is expired time.’”
If a first appeal is not approved but students wish to continue fighting the citation, the administrative review digs a little deeper on their behalf, Morck said. For example, PATS may verify a student’s use of a pay station using the last four digits of a credit card number.
“Especially during the fall semester we get a lot of citation appeals,” she said. “There are new students, or people have parked in some ungodly place or their temporary permit has expired. As the year goes on people figure it out. Others get citations all year long and never bother to pay them.”
Ashen Gutierrez, a junior psychology major, recently received a citation in the "A" parking lot, where she said she believed parking was free after 4 p.m. The rule is actually that parking is only free in that lot after 3:45 p.m. with a valid UNM parking permit, according to PATS website.
“If she has a permit she could appeal that and we would probably say ‘there’s your gimme,’” Morck said. “If you say you didn’t know the rule, we’ll believe you the first time, but if it keeps happening we have to say ‘no.’”
Gutierrez does not have a parking permit currently, nor has she ever had one. In past semesters she never received a parking citation despite having made this same mistake many times, she said. PATS has not changed this rule in years according to Morck.
“It’s really frustrating,” Gutierrez said. “I eventually want to take more P.E. classes or go to Johnson and work out, and now I’m going to have to buy an expensive parking pass or paying for pay station parking.”
Marielle Dent is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.