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Boot ordinance takes a step forward

February 26, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted to introduce an ordinance giving the Hagerstown Police Department the legal authority to "boot," or immobilize, the vehicles of some people who fail to pay their parking tickets.

The council is scheduled to vote on adoption of the ordinance at its March 25 meeting.

Last year, the council gave its general support for the police to begin using the boots, which are devices put on a vehicle's wheel to immobilize it.

Under the ordinance, police can put the boots on scofflaws who have at least three unpaid parking tickets more than 30 days old.

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Under the proposal, when a boot is placed on a car, a written notice also will be left explaining the situation, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

A vehicle owner will have two days from the time the vehicle is booted to pay outstanding citations before the vehicle is towed and impounded, Smith said.

Smith suggested the city charge a $100 fee to people who are booted to cover police time and expenses. The amount would be added to the amount of unpaid tickets, which also would have to be paid.

Currently, about 700 vehicles fit the requirements to be booted, Smith said.

Smith suggested an "amnesty program" for the first month to give people with delinquent tickets a chance to pay those costs, perhaps at a discount, before they are subject to booting.

The council will talk about that at next month's meeting, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

The earliest the Hagerstown program will become effective is April 25.

The city currently has vehicles belonging to those with many unpaid parking tickets towed.

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