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The ins and outs of parking appeals

Nov. 2, 2016

It’s no fun to walk out to your car and find a tiny yellow envelope with a parking ticket lying on your windshield, but there might be a silver lining.

Take a closer look at the envelope, and you’ll find information about how to appeal your ticket. According to Amanda Turnipseed, the director of IU Parking Operations, submitting an appeal might just be worth your time because your ticket might be excused or the fine might be reduced.

Enforcement specialist

An enforcement specialist writes a parking citation in a lot next to the Von Lee. | PHOTO BY JAMES BROSHER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

“The parking appeal committee will often dismiss the first citation because it corrects the behavior going forward,” Turnipseed said. 

In addition to leaving the ticket on your vehicle, if your vehicle is registered with Parking Operations they will send you an email to make sure you’ve been notified. Most tickets are $50, and the reason the violation is so costly is for the purpose of bringing your attention to the parking error so that you don’t receive additional tickets in the future. 

“The reason we issue citations is to correct behavior,” Turnipseed said. “We have a finite parking inventory, and faculty, staff and students who register with Parking Operations pay a lot of money for permits. Our goal is to keep spaces available for those who have paid to use them.”

How do I appeal my ticket? 

Once you’ve been issued a ticket, you have 14 days to submit an appeal to Parking Operations.

Appeals can be submitted online. There’s also a kiosk in the Parking Operations office for submitting appeals for those who have limited computer access.

More information about how to appeal is available on the Parking Operations website.

What happens when I submit an appeal?

Once your appeal is submitted, it is sent electronically to an appeals officer. Every appeal is seen by at least two people and is sent to each of them individually.

Appeals officers are people who have been appointed from various campus organizations such as the Bloomington Professional Council, the Bloomington Faculty Council, Support Staff and Service Maintenance Unions and the IU Student Association. They read your appeal to determine whether it should be waived, reduced or denied. 

The appeal will not include your name or any other information that could identify you, ensuring that the decisions officers make are not biased. Information from the office’s parking database such as your permit status or any previous citations will also be imported anonymously with the appeal.

In many cases, the officers considering an appeal come to the same conclusion, but sometimes they don’t. On those occasions, the appeal will go to a third officer. The final appeal decision is based on the first two conclusions that are alike.

Within two to six weeks, depending on the volume of appeals, you’ll be notified whether your ticket was excused, the fine was reduced or your appeal was denied. 

While the number of appeals ebbs and flows with the semester, at any given time there are typically 200 appeals awaiting a decision from members of Parking Operations’ Appeals Committee.

How do I increase my chances of getting my ticket waived?

Educating yourself about where you can park and when will greatly increase your chances of avoiding a ticket in the first place. Use the parking do’s and don’ts on the Office of Parking Operations website to be certain you have the correct information. 

Enforcement Specialist

An enforcement specialist checks a license plate. | PHOTO BY JAMES BROSHER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

Parking ticket appeals officers read a lot of notes from people appealing tickets who say, “I heard from so and so.”

“Many times the information they’re getting is incorrect,” Turnipseed said.

For instance, one common myth is that parking on campus is free after 5 p.m. That’s false.

Another common misconception relates to when drivers should move their vehicles in IU Athletics lots, particularly around Memorial Stadium and Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

Vehicles must be moved by 6 p.m. the day before all home football and men's basketball games or else they may be ticketed or towed. 

Another way to get your appeal granted is to avoid getting a lot of tickets. 

You’re more likely to have success if you appeal your ticket when you have no previous violations because the officers will be looking at is your ticket history.

Being respectful when you write your appeal doesn’t hurt, either.

“Appeals can often be used as a mechanism for venting frustration,” Turnipseed said.

Being rude or negative toward the person who is considering the appeal is unlikely to increase your chances of getting your ticket waived. In fact, it may have the opposite effect.

Being polite and admitting that you made a mistake and that you understand why you got the ticket is more likely to convince the appeals officers that you’re going to choose the right parking space in the future.

To increase your chances of getting an appeal granted, you can also get creative.

Turnipseed recalled several creative appeals that have been submitted over the years. Among those are appeals that have been written in the form of a song or in a narrative style; one featured the car as a character on an important high-risk mission and he forgot his permit. She also has an appeal that was written as a humorous top 10 list describing the reasons to grant the waiver. 

“As you can imagine, given the numerous types of citations issued for the same type of violation, we read a lot of appeals that seem redundant. Creativity in an explanation can sometimes go a long way,” she said.   

Read about parking rules, pay your ticket or appeal it on the Office of Parking Operations website.

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