According to a UPD data report on campus ticket numbers have doubled since 2012. | Shelley Westerson/Mustang News

Shelley Westerson

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If you’ve been wondering why you and your peers have been getting more tickets in the last year, here’s why. According to a Mustang News data analysis, the University Police Department (UPD) has been giving out twice as many tickets this year.

In 2012, there were 636 tickets handed out. The numbers slightly dipped to 523 in 2013 due to loss of manpower, then came back up to twice as many in 2014 with 1,267.

These numbers do not include parking tickets, but any other citations students have received on campus from UPD.

What are you most likely to get stopped for? Here are the top five most common tickets handed out on campus.

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#5: Bicycle Lights

Construction management senior Brian Hutchison was riding his bike at dusk up the hill to Poly Canyon Village like he did every day, when he got stopped by a University Police Officer for not having an illumination device on his bike.

“It was a different experience, I’ve never gotten a ticket for not having a bike light and getting pulled over for that. I’ve always ridden my  bike around campus at night without a light and I had never heard of anyone getting a ticket for not having a light on their bike,” Hutchison said.

This is just one of many tickets students may not be expecting to get when they come to campus, but the fact is, they are. Seventy-one citations handed out just last year were for bicycles without lights.

#4: Expired Registration

Though 71 bicycle light citations may seem like a lot, they are only the fifth-most common ticket handed out on campus. The next most common were tickets for vehicles with expired registration, with 72 citations given out in 2014.

“I got pulled over by a UPD officer and he told me it was because my registration was expired,” anthropology and geography senior Cheyne Bluhm said. “I talked to him for a while and explained that I had just bought the vehicle. He ended up letting me go with a warning but said that normally he would give out a ticket. Turns out he was a pretty nice guy.”

Though Bluhm was lucky, it is not uncommon for UPD to let students off with only a warning. According to UPD Chief George Hughes, there is about a 2-to-1 ratio between warnings and actual tickets written, so for every 100 citations handed out, there were about 200 warnings as well.

#3: Skateboarding/rollerblading on campus

The third most common ticket handed out on campus in 2014 was for skateboarding or rollerblading, both of which are not allowed on campus.

There are two reasons skateboarding is banned on campus, according to Hughes. One is because Cal Poly is a very steep campus, making it easy to pick up speed. The second is that campus is extremely congested with people at the top of every hour Monday through Friday so skateboarding on campus would be too dangerous.

#2: Public Intoxication

The second most frequently handed out ticket is for public intoxication. The number has nearly doubled every year, with 38 in 2012, 77 in 2013 and 120 in 2014. The fine for public intoxication is $427, and a judge may impose additional fines such as court costs.  First-time offenders have the option to attend a diversion class, that if successfully complete, would wave the fine, according to Hughes. The ticket numbers have been increasing due to the higher population of students on campus and officers being more proactive since there were so many complaints.

#1: Failure to stop at a stop sign

The No. 1 most common ticket handed out on campus is failure to stop at a stop sign. With 310 handed out just last year, stop sign tickets account for 24 percent of all tickets handed out in the year. Most of these tickets were not given to drivers, but bikers.

Hughes said the majority of complaints UPD receives usually revolve around bicycle violations, most commonly riding through the pedestrian walk zones and running the stop signs.

“Our goal is not to just punish; our goal is to try to deter the behavior from happening,” he said. “Then we  leave it up to the officer’s discretion on what’s the best way to get compliance; is it by warning, written warning or citation? Always the goal is to deter the behavior from happening again.”

Most Common Places to get a ticket:

UPD does try to deter the behavior on campus; the largest number of tickets handed out in the last three years were all on North Perimeter Road, which starts at Faculty Offices North and runs past the Robert E. Kennedy Library all the way down to California Boulevard.

Highland Drive, California Boulevard and Grand Avenue are the next most common areas for tickets on Cal Poly’s campus, but these are not the only places UPD patrols.

Out of all the citations given out in the last three years, 19 percent of them were off campus.

“Per state law, we can patrol up to one mile around campus, and we do that,” said Hughes.

Off-campus citation numbers are higher than any location on campus, with 137 tickets given out in 2014.

What to do when you get a ticket

Once you have been issued a ticket by UPD, there are a few options. Of course, an option is to simply pay the ticket, but there are also ways to get around paying.

For those considered eligible by the San Luis Obispo Superior Court, there are bicycle and skateboarding diversion classes available. Once the course is completed the ticket is forgiven, but these courses can only be taken once every 18 months.

For parking tickets, there is an actual appeal process that takes place for those who feel they have been wrongfully cited.

Business sophomore Elliot Goodman was one of those people. He bought a yearlong residential parking pass as a freshman, but when he came to campus one night he could not find parking so he parked in a staff spot. In the morning he got a ticket. He was able to successfully appeal the ticket after pleading his case to UPD.

“There were so many people with parking permits and so few spots for those people to park in, but obviously they realized it was a problem too and they overturned the ticket,” Goodman said.

According to Hughes, the overall goal of UPD is not to shower students with tickets but to keep the Cal Poly campus and community safe.

“I foresee the number of citations issued to level out and remain consistent or begin to slightly drop over the next few years as the proactive enforcement continues and hopefully deters the behavior from occurring, hopefully resulting in less citations being issued, not more,” he said.

Join the Conversation


  1. THis is a good thing! cops at school need to milk more money of out these dang rich kids!! if they can afford college they can afford a $300 road tax! plus these cops are heros! without them we would have at least 1,000 studnets a weekend drunk on campus! remember that article about someone who smashed windows thatd be every day! jeez!! scary times!

  2. This guy’s kidding right? Just because we go to college doesn’t mean we’re rich. most students are on a scholarship, taking out loans, or have used up savings. And many of us work part time jobs whenever we can make time outside of school and still barely scrape by after paying for books and food and bills. The idea of college being for rich kids is BS. And these cops are bored out of their damn minds because for the most part, the students on campus are good kids. These tickets aren’t saving lives, they’re earning the department more money.

    1. no way!! have u not read the news about all the scary things at cal poly! we have ppl with not only NO BIKE LIGHTS but also ROLLING STOP SIGNS! too much crime!

      these cops only get paid 60,000+ a year and benefits! thats hard living by such a hero job they do!

  3. I’m confused. The title says “why” we are getting more tickets this year, but doesn’t actually explain the root cause. Way to go Mustang news!! Great journalism with click bait methodology once again

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