City puts ‘boot’ on car, owner pays old parking tickets right away - Olean Times Herald: - City puts ‘boot’ on car, owner pays old parking tickets right away : News

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City puts ‘boot’ on car, owner pays old parking tickets right away

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Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 12:00 am

OLEAN - You may get the boot if you have three or more unpaid parking tickets within two years.

The city recently put the boot the vehicle of a parking ticket scofflaw last week after enacting legislation in March that allowed it to do so. The boot, or parking immobilizer, is a clamp that is attached to a wheel that renders a vehicle immobile.

The enforcement worked very well in its first case last week, said Jim McGinnis, the city's parking-meter man.

"Within minutes after it was put on we had instant results," he said, adding that the violator paid the outstanding tickets.

The last thing the city wants to do is put the boot on a vehicle, Mr. McGinnis said. Parking violators can avoid the boot by simply paying their tickets. All tickets can be paid in the city clerk's office.

"Just pay them when they are issued," he said. "That's the best way to go."

People can contest the tickets in city court if they feel they are unfair, city attorney Dan DeRose said.

Common Council enacted the enforcement legislation in March, allowing Police Chief Terry Schnell to give the boot to, tow or impound vehicles that are in violation of city laws and have a number of outstanding parking violations. The enforcement stands for any illegal parking in the city, Chief Schnell said.

The legislation gave the city power to actively go after unpaid parking tickets.

"In the past it just wasn't being done," Mr. McGinnis said, adding that there is now a city traffic-enforcement bureau. "It's given us a means to collect (the tickets)."

Scofflaws can still get the boot on their vehicle if they parked at a meter legally with time left to park, Mr. McGinnis said.

Osborne Towing has contracted with the city to tow or place boots on vehicles. Chris Giardini, who works for Osborne said the boot is not going to come off.

"There is no way to get it off because they made that boot so it fits over the lug nuts," he said. "If you drive with it, it's just a big, huge mess. They rip off fender wells, fenders, suspension parts."

When a vehicle has three or more unpaid parking tickets in less than two years the owner will first be sent a letter by first-class mail explaining the situation and how to pay the tickets. The next step is for the city to immobilize the vehicle with the boot, tow or impound the vehicle. Towing will be used when the parked vehicle is impeding traffic.

If the boot is used, a bright orange sticker is placed on the car letting the owner know who they can contact to pay the tickets and get the boot removed. An administrative fee of ,250 for using the boot has to be paid by the scofflaw on top of the parking fines.

The city struggled for years to collect past-due parking tickets. The mayor found that the city was owed ,92,205 in parking tickets in 2007 but could only collect one-third of that. Municipalities can't collect overdue parking tickets past two years, according to state law.

(Contact reporter Brian Lothridge at blothridge@oleantimesherald.com.)

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