Judge dismisses veteran’s parking tickets from California college

July 17, 2013
alex got parking tickets

Alex Duncan is lobbying Santa Rosa Junior College to adopt legislation that permits purple heart license holders to park without paying in metered spaces. Image by The Press Democrat.

Californian Commissioner Larry Ornell dismissed two parking tickets issued to Purple Heart recipient Alex Duncan by the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) police. The judge urged school officials to adopt the state policies that guarantee free parking to Purple Heart and other veteran license plates. Alex Duncan was attending classes at SRJC to become a civilian police officer when he received the parking tickets.

Tickets dismissed on technicality

Duncan, shot during the war in Iraq in 2008, said that according to California law, his Purple Heart license plates enable him to park without paying in metered spaces. Ornell pointed out that since the SRJC board had not officially adopted the five year old state policy, Duncan could not make use of the parking benefit.

coin meter

Duncan’s tickets were dismissed based on the technicality that the ticket was written illogically: he was charged for not having a parking permit and a coin meter. Image by cjc4454.

Still, Ornell let Duncan off on grounds of illogical ticketing: they stated Duncan was parking at a coin meter without a parking permit.

Ornell revealed that he used to be a military police officer in the National Guard unit Duncan was part of. He advised Duncan to lobby SRJC board members to vote on the topic. He also recommended that Duncan get help from local veterans’ rights groups.

Ornell expressed that, as someone who “gave more than the rest of us,” Duncan should receive the special parking benefits provided by the code. SRJC President Frank Chong promised to bring up the matter to the board during its next meeting.

SRJC says other disabled groups could protest


Veteran parking signs can help prevent confusion and clearly indicate spots reserved for those with combat disabilities. View this sign here.

Chong said that campus police Chief Matt McCaffrey would first need to review the topic to decide whether it fits with existing campus parking policies. The chief said that even if SRJC adopts the state policy, Duncan and others who have veteran plates could only park for the maximum duration permitted by the meter. After that time, Duncan would get a ticket. This means that Duncan would be forced to get a parking permit.

McCaffrey said that he would consider if SRJC should extend more benefits to veterans aside from the state policy, like free parking throughout the campus. The chief pointed out that groups like disabled students could be upset if they did not get similar privileges. “You have to be very careful when you start waiving fees for certain people. Others are going to say ‘what about us?'” he said.

“I think I’ll back off and take it up the chain the proper way,” Duncan said. He seems to have taken the judge’s advice to heart and said he would try to get SRJC to adopt the state policy. The veteran added that there are twenty Purple Heart recipients at SRJC, but it’s unclear how many of them have the special license plate.

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Category: Regulations