A parking enforcement officer is responsible for ensuring that motorists abide by local parking restrictions. Typically, these officers are municipal employees and in some countries these individuals are called "traffic wardens." While some regional governments employ full time parking enforcement officers, in other areas local police officers are tasked with enforcing parking rules.
In many cities, motorists are only allowed to park in specially designated zones or parking lots. Enforcement officers patrol areas of the city where parking is not permitted such residential neighborhoods, areas outside certain businesses and along major thoroughfares. Officers normally carry around a booklet of parking tickets and place tickets on the windshields of illegally parked vehicles. Typically, a parking enforcement officer must also write down the registration number of a ticketed vehicle so that the driver can be traced if the fine is not paid within a specific period of time. In some locations, officers also have the authority to assess fines on drivers who block intersections or stop their vehicles while they are unloading passengers even if they keep the engine running at all times.
Many parking lot operators and government agencies reserve certain parking spots for drivers who have physical disabilities. These parking spots are clearly marked and a parking enforcement officer can assess a fine on any driver who illegally parks in such a spot. Normally, the cars of disabled drivers can be easily identified because many local governments provide these drivers with disabled parking badges or cards that they must attach to the inside of their windshield.
In some areas, a parking enforcement officer has the authority to impound illegally parked vehicles and these officers can arrange to have towing firms move such vehicles to secure government operated parking lots. Drivers must pay a hefty fee to reclaim cars that have been towed. Additionally, officers can have cars towed that have out of date license plates or expired registration tags since these vehicles are not allowed to be driven on the road. Aside from having vehicles towed, some parking officers place metal clamps on the wheels of vehicles that prevent driver from being able to operate the vehicle. In order to have a clamp removed the driver must pay the parking fine.
Police officers who enforce parking laws are able to investigate other types of offenses but in some areas people who are specifically employed as parking enforcement officers also have the authority to address other minor infractions that involve the roadways. These officers can sometimes assess fines on pedestrians who cross roads at locations that are not designated crossing points. Additionally, some officers are tasked with directing vehicles when traffic signals stop functioning.