Parking ticket trouble

Stopped+sticker+at+WO

Stopped sticker at WO

Emily Kercher

Red and blue sirens in the rear view mirrors, a speedometer that is desperately decreasing, and a quick bead of sweat are a perfect recipe for a disastrous run in with the law. The clues indicate a ticket, from a police officer, which is ultimately going to go on a driving record. Any kind of ticket is bad, whether the fee is $150 or $25. What about a ticket without the sirens and the speeding? What about a ticket…while the car is parked? Welcome to the reality of students at West Ottawa that are parking without “stopped stickers”.

A stopped sticker is a little red sticker that costs the vehicles owner $25 before a driving error has even been recorded. However, if a student parks in the school’s parking lot without the sticker, they are ticketed. The tickets are issued at $60 each, payable to the Ottawa county court systems. The sticker does not help improve gas mileage, it does not reduce probability to crash, nor does this little two inch sticker actually move once it is placed on the windshield. The sticker is there only for confirmation that the driver has permission to park as a visual.

What is the purpose of the $25 fee, and what is the purpose of the sticker in the first place? “If you get stopped and you have a stopped sticker, we have to turn it into the state police and the state police then notifies the parents that their child was either involved in a traffic stop or a citation was issued.” Deputy Workman, one of West Ottawas police officers said. “We can connect with the parents and let them know how their kid is driving”. Basically the purpose of the program tied in with the law enforcement is so that the parents of the driving teen and the teens records are all properly communicated.

The sticker reads “STOPPED” across the whole thing, but what does that mean? The stopped program itself is a program designed to remind teens to be safe, with the consequence of their parents knowing if they are breaking rules via a law enforcement’s note home. The police are trained to notice the sticker on a teens windshield and to notify parents accordingly depending on what the offense was.

So…what does this have to do with West Ottawa? The stopped program released a question and answer forum on their website, when faced with the following question of:  “Why are some high schools requiring registration with the STOPPED program to park on campus?” They responded online by saying that “… For students – it provides a constant visual reminder to always drive as if their parents are in the car with them. For parents – it provides peace of mind knowing that since they were a part of the process to set family driving rules – teens will think twice before engaging in dangerous activities while driving. For schools – having the STOPPED program provide the decals free of charge saves them quite a bit of money on parking permits AND eliminates the necessity of having an additional sticker cluttering up the windshield.”

It’s a good system for the authorities, but what do the students think about all of this?

“I have better things to spend $30 on and last year I didn’t get one [a ticket] at all. I plan on not buying a pass this year until I get a warning first.” A student at West Ottawa said in an interview at the end of the second week into the school year. The student body of West Ottawa has been constantly reminded to get their parking pass before the staff does routine checks of car windshields. Thanks to Workman, some information has been cleared up. “Warnings were the first two weeks.[how many random checks are their?] Usually there’s a lot more towards the beginning of the year and then whenever we have free time or time to go check.” Workman said. 

Moreover, that fee that some people may be wondering about…where does the $25 go? The deputy’s don’t know either. The fee that is originally to pay for the pass is most likely going to the painting of the lines or any parking lot repairs according to Workman. “The school has that money…it doesn’t go to the Ottawa County police department.” Workman said, however, if a ticket is issued, “That money goes to the sheriff’s office then because the ticket is from us. Otherwise your car is technically trespassing and its parking where it’s not allowed too…you would have to go down to the court and pay it.” So, if you buy the pass, the money is $25 to the schools fund, if you get a ticket it is $60 towards the police system.

Whether we like it or not there is absolutely no choice in that matter for the students, the parking pass is mandatory. The bottom line is, spending $25 at the beginning of the year is a lot wiser of a decision than getting a ticket, and buying a pass later for a total of $85 (ticket cost fee plus cost of a pass). It’s never too late to buy your pass because they are available all year, register your vehicle online, go to the front desk at north and get the pass.