No back-up parking policy effective Feb. 19, new scanning technology to detect illegally purchased permits

A slew of new parking policies are taking effect this year, including a no back-up parking policy. Permit holders will no longer be able to back up into a parking space unless a front license plate is displayed. Photo credit: Hunter Crenian

It’s not uncommon to see drivers trying to find and squeeze into tight parking spaces in on-campus lots. For an easier angle, some students back their cars into designated spaces. However, starting Feb. 19, a “no backing in policy” is taking effect.

Junior Luis Gonzalez said he finds the new policy a burden. Gonzalez said he believes the only person who benefits from the update are the parking enforcement officers.

“For me backing in is a habit,” Gonzalez said. “I grew up in a family of police officers who always taught me that it’s safer to back in. It’s the fastest way to leave a parking spot in an emergency, it’s easier for you to look for other cars when leaving your spot and it’s personally just easier.”

The no back-up rule stems from another new parking policy: fully digital parking passes.

In spring 2016, parking enforcement vehicles were equipped with license plate recognition technology. The scanners read license plates and notify parking enforcement officers if the car is registered with a permit. The officers no longer have to look at the physical parking permits.

Director of Parking and Transportation Richard Sobaram said the changes will allow UM to keep up with relevant technology. Sobaram said Florida International University has had the system in place for two years.

“This is the way of the future,” he said. “If we don’t do this now, five years from now, we will be behind.”

Thousands of permit holders who commute to campus have Florida-issued license plates. Florida is one of 18 states in the United States that does not require license plates on both the back and front of a vehicle. If a vehicle is parking backwards, the scanner cannot detect the permit.

Students, faculty and staff with larger cars who prefer to park backward must visit the parking and transportation office to obtain a makeshift parking license plate with the sequence number of their permit to place in the front of their cars. The license plates will cost between $15 and $20.

Those who decide to back up into a space without one of the makeshift license plates will receive a warning. If the car is again found backed into a space, the driver will receive a ticket of $50.

Starting next semester, students will no longer be given physical parking permits to park on campus.

Junior Adam Warsoff said though he wasn’t aware of the new policy, his license plate became registered when he signed up for his parking pass in August 2017. He said students who obtain permits in other ways will probably have the biggest issue with the change.

“I know there are some students who borrow other students’ passes or buy the passes off other students altogether, so I think this new policy would affect them because their cars would not be in the system,” Warsoff said.

As of February 2018, there are 8,500 active parking permits, 620 of which were issued for the spring 2018 semester.

Thousands of students commute to and from campus, but there are only seven officers in charge of monitoring the parking permits. Sobaram said the new system gives the officers a more efficient way of keeping track of the vehicles.

Sobaram said because the officers have started to enforce the policies using license plates, they are discovering “dozens” of students with physical parking permits that are not registered to their vehicles, purchased illegally from other students. Sobaram said it is usually a red zone permit from another student who graduated in December 2017.

He said giving or selling a permit to another student is against university policy and “unfair to students on the waitlist.” He said students who no longer need a permit are required to return it for a “prorated refund,” allowing the permit to go to the next person on the waitlist.

Students who are discovered with illegally obtained permits are referred to the Dean of Students Office for disciplinary action.

“It is not fair if someone with a registered permit cannot find a parking space in their designated lot because it is being taken up by people parked illegally,” Sobaram said.

Anyone with questions about the new policy changes can visit the UM Department of Parking and Transportation website at or call 305-284-3096.