Parking cramped, towing enforced

It’s Monday morning, it’s pouring rain, and you’re late to class.

So you pull into the nearest available parking space and absent-mindedly wonder to yourself what the difference between parking in a ‘Reserved’ space or a regular space might be.

As nearly 200 unfortunate students have found out, the difference could be a wet walk to class from a distant (but legal) parking space, or no dry car to return to afterward.

If a student is found parked in a faculty parking space, that car is branded with a ticket, while the same goes for the opposite scenario. If a faculty member is discovered parked in a student lot, the car owner is also expected to pay up.

Unpaid parking tickets are the primary reason for towing vehicles, according to DPS Lt. Col. Jeff Martin.

“Students, vendors, staff, anybody – if a vehicle has three or more unpaid citations, and are observed on campus anywhere, they can be towed,” said Martin.

“[Same] for anybody in a fire lane,” he continued. “Handicapped spaces, we usually just give a citation, but we could tow them.

“Reserved spots,” Martin said, “such as Fidelity workers, they pay [up to $500] for their reserved spots, and can understandably get pretty angry if someone is in their space. They can request that the car be towed.”

Rees Hardy, Inc., of Wilder, Ky., is contracted by NKU to tow vehicles. Towing prices begin at $65, although rates can rise due to several factors.

If, for instance, Rees Hardy must unlock a car to release an emergency brake or take the car out of gear, another $5 to $15 is owed. Some four-wheel-drive trucks or SUVs require a flatbed carrier, which costs the owner an additional $25 fee, according to Rees Hardy owner John Smith.

When a driver has three or more unpaid citations, their car’s information is added to the Scoff Law list. If a DPS officer or one of the university’s 10 cadets spots a car from the list, the car becomes a target for towing procedures.

That makes Smith and his employees vulnerable to another unpleasant aspect of the towing business, which is aimed at them by their involuntary customers.

“If you came down (to the lot) when students were there to get their cars, you would hear some outrageous stories,” Smith said. “They complain, cuss at us about the prices, this, that. They say, ‘I’ve only been here for 10 minutes,’ but usually the cops have already been there for 20.”

Should a student walk up to their car while it is being towed, they do have a chance to redeem themselves and save their car from the lot. If they arrive before their car is hooked to the tow truck, the student can immediately pay their outdated parking tickets and a $30 to $50 show fee to Rees Hardy.

The show fee is compensation for the drive to NKU, and the actual dollar amount depends on how long it takes the student to gather their money and pay the citations.

A person can acquire parking tickets by parking their car in the fire lane, reserved parking spaces, or by parking in illegal areas, such as on sidewalks or the ends of parking rows.

While those towed to the Wilder impound lot owe a pretty penny, the university doesn’t see a single cent.

“That’s why the university contracts a towing company,” said Martin. “The university enforces traffic laws, but it doesn’t want to be in a position to make money from towing vehicles.”