No experience at South Dakota State University is complete without a trip to the University Police Department, popularly known as the U.P.D. Nearly every student has got, at least, one ticket during his or her campus life.
According to student officer 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.
U.P.D. officials say, each week, an average of 120 tickets are paid. During the week of January19 and 26, 2005, student violators paid for 130 tickets.
The great bulk of the tickets are issued for “Parking Violations,” though those for “Moving Violations” aren’t 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 all at.
The fine for most of these violations is $20. In a few instances, however, it can jump several notches, either for parking in a 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 dole out a hefty fine, but his or her vehicle will also be towed.
Tickets issued for “Moving Violations” are done in instances of “Speeding,” “Exhibition Driving,” “Reckless Driving,” and jumping a “Stop Sign.” Penalties for these violations are sterner and involve state citations, unlike those issued for parking violations, which are taken care of at the level of the U.P.D.
Any vehicle moving at a speed over the posted speed limit or that of the university speed limit of 25 m.p.h. will be fined $3 for every mile per hour, in excess of the posted speed limit, over and above a base fee of $24. The fines for exhibition, careless, and reckless driving are $60, $90, and $120 respectively.
Explaining why the U.P.D. is a stickler for tickets, chief Tim Heaton said, “I know a lot of folks get upset because of the tickets, but that’s the job I was given to do—to enforce the laws of the state of South Dakota and the policies of South Dakota State University.”
“Our job is to have no gray area. The policies are written down by the [university’s] traffic and parking committee that’s comprised of faculty, staff, and students.”
What happens if you don’t pay your tickets? An additional late fee of $3 will accrue on each ticket not paid within 96 hours of its issuance.
As per clause 4.4.9 of the South Dakota State University 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 won’t be released until such time that the owner comes and pays his or her dues.
However, as office manager Kelly Anawski puts it, “We’ve relaxed the regulations for the sake of students. 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 South Dakota State University’s parking and traffic fund and is utilized for the upkeep of the parking lots as well for paying U.P.D. salaries.
Anawski explained, “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’s not based on the number of tickets written or the number of vehicles that are on the tow list.”