Sarasota lawmaker proposes bill that would allow reverse parking in parking garages

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A proposed Florida law could change the way you park. A local lawmaker wants to allow back-in parking inside parking garages. 

When you drive into a parking garage in Florida, it’s important to pay attention to signs, because in some cities if you back into a space, you could pay a fine.

It happened to Karen DeFelice’s husband.

“We tried to fight it and you can’t, you can’t say that you didn’t not know that you couldn’t do it,” said DeFelice.

Different cities have different laws on reverse parking in parking garages, so Florida Senate Bill 378 seeks to change that. It would allow back-in parking at any garage in Florida.

“I don’t understand the point in ticketing people for backing into a parking place when you can back into a parking place anywhere in the state of Florida,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Greg Steube.

Sarasota parking manager Mark Lyons is so concerned about this bill, he’s spoken with the mayor. He says architects and city engineers prohibit reverse parking for good reason.

“If somebody backs into that space, it’s an unsafe maneuver to get into it. More than that, its unsafe coming out of that space, a lot of times just jet right out of those parking spaces into oncoming traffic,” said Lyons.

Also, reverse parking would prevent license plates from being seen. Since Florida does not require front-end license plates, this could impossibly impede law enforcement from checking license plates if needed.

“Cities, counties should have the right to create their own rules and ordinances that fit within their environment….If there isn’t some level of continuity and conformity in how people park, then it creates an unsafe operating environment and it slows others down,” said Lyons.

“I would love to see facts or evidence to support that people are getting into accidents or people are getting injured because people backed into a parking place,” said Steube. “I would argue that its safer to back in, because in the case of an emergency, you can get out of your space quicker than having to back up from the parking place and go.”

If this law takes effect, DeFelice would be in full support of it. She thinks it’ll make parking a lot smoother.

“Sometimes in this parking garage, it is hard to loop in, so it’d be easier to back in,” said DeFelice.

The legislative session begins in January. If this bill passes, the law would take effect in July.

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