Police Department to Limit Overnight Parking Requests
By Patrick Lynn
Stevens Point police say they’re cracking down on habitual overnight parking.
According to Detective Sgt. Tony Babl, motorists are able to park overnight in areas marked with “no overnight parking” signs provided they contact the police department for an exception. Babl said it has typically been used by residents who need to park on the street because they’re reconstructing a driveway, are moving, or have a large number of overnight guests. So long as there are no safety concerns or a snow emergency, he said, that means the vehicle typically would be exempt from being ticketed or towed.
But now, Babl said that exception is being abused and dispatch is becoming overwhelmed with late-night calls.
“It was designed for unusual circumstances; but now people are using it just as a place to park- people are calling 19, 20 times a month,” Babl said.
The city restricts on-street parking between 2-6 AM, and according to Lead Communications Technician Tim Peterson, all four dispatchers on the night shift devote a lot of their time to handling overnight parking requests.
“It is a big portion of the night shift person’s job,” Peterson said, adding he didn’t have specific numbers but said employees of the Portage Co. Communications Center have noticed an increase in calls over the past few months. “A big portion of the calls they take is for a person requesting overnight parking.”
Peterson said dispatchers will take the caller’s name, contact information, license plate number and vehicle description, and provided they are legally parked and haven’t abused the system, dispatchers will grant the overnight parking request. But after three calls per month, dispatchers won’t automatically grant the exception, making vehicles open to a $15 parking ticket or being towed.
“It bogs down our dispatchers who are trying to answer emergency calls,” Babl said. “They can’t keep taking a person’s name and plate number and location every night of the week. This shouldn’t be your permanent solution for parking issues.”
Babl said he knows the SPPD will likely receive more complaints on the policy- particularly from patrons of taverns on the Downtown Square who leave vehicles parked overnight after having too much to drink.
“It’s something we do get complaints about now, because we do ticket the car and they say, ‘well we chose not to drive so I shouldn’t be penalized because I did the responsible thing by taking a cab home’,” Babl said. “People need to be responsible by having designated drivers. Yeah, we’d rather have you leave your car if you’ve had too much to drink, however a $15 ticket is better than thousands of dollars in drunk driving fines.”
Babl said motorists should never be discouraged from parking overnight if they’re too inebriated to drive.
“If that unique situation happens less than 3 times a month, then yes, you can call and we won’t ticket you. If you call more than that and say ‘I’m drunk again’ and you need to take the drunk bus or a cab, then you need to do something different and change your lifestyle,” he added.