WCU parking fines increased for habitual offenders

It just became more expensive – and more risky – for scofflaws who regularly ignore campus parking policies at Western Carolina University.

The WCU board of trustees unanimously approved changes to campus parking and traffic regulations, toughening the penalties imposed upon repeat offenders. Approval of the changes came as part of the board’s quarterly meeting Friday, March 23.

Under the new rules, motorists who receive three or more university parking or traffic citations within a semester (not including those that are successfully appealed) will be deemed “habitual offenders,” and will have their parking permits revoked for one week.

The changes approved by the board include a graduated system of lengthier suspensions and additional re-permitting fees for repeat offenders who continue to violate parking and traffic regulations, up to the loss of parking privileges for the remainder of the semester and a fee of $75 after 12 violations. Motorists who park on campus during a period of permit revocation will have their vehicles towed or incapacitated by wheel-lock, which carries additional fines.

The stricter regulations are needed because of an increase in parking violations as spaces in the middle of campus are being taken by construction projects, pushing more vehicles to lots on the periphery of campus, said Tom Johnson, WCU director of police.

“Currently, our fines really have no impact because parents are paying the fines and students continue to park illegally,” Johnson said. “It has become an exercise in futility. By moving to a system similar to the way the state keeps up with offenses for drivers’ licenses, this will hopefully have an impact and change the behavior of the habitual offenders.”