August 16, 2010

U. Va. to boot vehicles with delinquent tickets

Beginning Monday, the University of Virginia's (U. Va.) Department of Parking and Transportation will launch a campaign to collect about $265,000 in delinquent parking fines by immobilizing the vehicles of offenders with outstanding tickets.

Parking enforcement agents will put "traffic boots" on vehicles that have accumulated multiple parking fines. The devices, which lock onto the wheels and immobilize the vehicle, must be unlocked by a parking and transportation employee.

To remove the boot from the vehicle, the driver must contact the department and pay a $50 removal fee to get the boot taken off the car, as well as the delinquent parking tickets.

More than 1,500 car owners have piled up $265,000 in unpaid parking fines since July 2009. Of these, 40 license plates represent $50,000 in unpaid fines, with the top two delinquents each owing in excess of $3,000, according to Rebecca White, director, parking and transportation.

Parking fines are usually about $45 for each offense, with a $25 fee if paid after the deadline. In fiscal year 2009-10, the U. Va. collected approximately $572,000 in parking fines.

Officials said they had spoken to transportation officials from several other in-state colleges who are also using a boot to recoup delinquent tickets. Booting rather than towing allows vehicle owners to retrieve their cars without leaving Grounds, White said, and because the boot does not require a vehicle to be unlocked or moved, it is less invasive than towing.

White added that while she expects the program to be successful, it is not how she would like to spend the department's time or resources.

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