NEW YORK (PIX11)—License plate capturing cameras are prowling Brooklyn neighborhoods--nabbing drivers who've managed to rack up at least $350 in parking tickets that are three months old--and holding their cars hostage with an electronic tire boot under a new program that rolls out on June 25.
It could be a major windfall for the City, which is owed $300 million dollars in unpaid parking and red light tickets. 270,000 people could soon find themselves getting "the boot."
Jack Lee was on the edge of Ft. Greene Park, sitting in his car in front of a hydrant while waiting for his family, and reminisced about the day he was towed for two parking tickets he didn't pay, "It was very tough to get my vehicle. I had to go to pound, and then get my vehicle. I ended up paying like $720."
Now parking could cost a whole lot more with an electronic boot rolled out in Brooklyn. Two vans roll at 30 m.ph. through neighborhoods. They're equipped with license plate capturing cameras that run that info against the City's database of scofflaws. The city's going to boot anyone who owes $350 or more in judgments, then force them to pay up to an additional $250 or more once they hold the car hostage with the electronic boot.
Shirley Cade of East Flatbush didn't have any sympathy for non-payers, "I think it's fair that if I pay my ticket everyone else should too."
Avery Newman, who runs four cars daily to make his printing business work admitted, "I let them go sometimes."
"This is a deterrent for people parking their cars illegally," explained Comm. David Frankel with the Dept. of Finance.
Targeting the nine percent of people who never pay up for parking tickets, Commissioner Frankel says the boot and a traditional tow for not paying tickets cost about the same. But dealing with the boot can be far quicker.
"With towing, it can take four, six, eight hours to get your car back. With the boot, now it can take four, six, eight minutes," he explained.
Drivers have two business days to pay up when the boot is installed. Call the number on the boot, pay with a credit or debit card, enter the code you get, and the boot unlocks and pops off. Cash payers have to do so in person, and a PayLock employee will remove the boot within two to four hours.
But leave the boot for more than two days, and you'll be facing the dreaded tow, which can cost another $250. The boot also needs to be returned to one of three Brooklyn locations or you'll be charged $25 day, up to $500--the same cost if you damage it (like by trying to remove it illegally.)
The program starts in Brooklyn, as long as there are no hiccups, Staten Island and Queens will get their own boot in three to six months.