About 3,300 parking citations were written at Duke last December, and for about half of the students, employees or visitors who got a ticket, it meant paying a fine from $10 for infractions like improperly displaying a permit to $250 for parking in a handicap spot.
But for nearly 1,600 people, the fines were waived, as part of Duke's parking ticket appeal process.Read More
By completing an appeal form or appearing in-person with the appeals committee, Duke community members and visitors are able to plead their case - successfully or not.
"We know that everyone wants to park close to wherever they're going, but unfortunately we just don't have the spaces to accommodate everyone with the parking how they'd prefer to have," said Marian Brown, adjudications officer for Parking and Transportation Services and a member of the appeals committee.
Along with Brown, 11 other Duke staff members voluntarily serve on the appeals committee, which meets once or twice a week, depending on the number of citation appeals. Students can also serve on the group. During a meeting, the committee reviews up to 30 appeals - from improperly parking in lots to failing to move vehicles from lots before athletic events. Time is also reserved to allow for five minute, in-person appeals.
While all parking citations are eligible to be appealed, Duke community members should consider context when appealing a ticket. For example, if a vehicle was parked in a fire lane, or in a handicap-accessible spot, the driver is breaking state law; the ticket will not be dismissed. In other cases, if a car is parked without a proper permit, but the driver has a legitimate reason such as a medical emergency, the appeal committee may consider a dismissal.
"We know it can be hard parking on a college campus, but it's important to think twice before submitting an appeal because not everything will be a legitimate excuse," said Brown, the adjudications officer.
Johnny Bell, a senior network analyst with the Office of Information Technology, has served on the appeals committee member for about 20 years. He joined the group because he considered it a valuable way to help Duke's parking efforts.
For community members considering an appeal, Bell suggested first consulting Duke's parking policies to ensure an appeal is well founded. He recommended providing pertinent information, like photos, in the appeal.
"A lot of times people will just appeal by making comments but never give us a way to verify what they say," Bell said.
Although Parking and Transportation provides information and support for the appeals committee, the group's voting members make decisions independently. Brown said the committee's goal isn't to punish motorists but to help educate and reinforce rules to keep campus safe.