Chicago Begins 24 Hour A Day Booting

EXCLUSIVE Report From The Expired Meter

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Scofflaws, hide your cars.

Because the City of Chicago, without any advance public warning, is literally, clamping down on motorists once again.

In an effort to catch more cars eligible for the dreaded Denver boot, and convince their owners to cough up the dough to pay off their unpaid parking tickets, a revenue starved City of Chicago has just begun 24 hour a day vehicle immobilization, six days a week.

Very quietly last Monday night, while most Chicagoans were asleep in bed, a fleet of 10 booting vans departed their parking lot staging areas located at 2735 N. Ashland Ave. for the very first sortie of overnight booting.

Night Booting.jpgA DOR van pulls away from a just booted vehicle and onto the next.

The first boot van pulled out a several minutes after 10 PM and began slowly prowling northbound on Ashland Ave., hunting scofflaw vehicles for just over a mile before catching it’s first prey of the night at 10:30 PM.

On Ashland Ave., just past Irving Park Rd. and directly in front of Lakeview High School, the very first victim of this new overnight initiative, felt the tight grip of cold yellow painted metal on its’ front driver’s side wheel.

13 minutes and another mile and a quarter later down Ashland, the same booter hit pay dirt again catching another scofflaw just south of Foster Ave.

The first night of overnight booting looked to be a very productive one.

honda new.jpgThe bright orange sticker says it all: 11-2 at 10:30 PM

With a black hole of a city budget deficit looming for 2010 and for as far as the eye can see, the Daley Administration, desperate to find revenue quickly, seems to be pulling out all the stops to bring in as much of the over half  billion dollars in outstanding parking ticket and red light ticket fines owed the city.

The Department of Revenue hired and began training 12 new booters in September to beef up their ranks and prepare for the new around the clock vehicle immobilization strategy.

Up until recently, booting crews in Chicago started at 6 AM and continued into the early afternoon, ending around 2:30 PM. Additional shifts began in the early afternoon, with booting still continuing, but with a mild emphasis on releasing booted vehicles after owners paid the city what they owed for parking and red light camera tickets. In general, the bulk of boots applied during a day came during the morning and early afternoon.

Many Chicago drivers who utilize city streets to park their vehicles, understood this ebb and flow to booting. Boot eligible drivers who left for work early and then got home in the evening for dinner, had very little chance their car ever being caught in the jaws of a bright yellow boot. Because their cars were almost never parked when boot vans were prowling the streets of Chicago, they could go to sleep every night without fear. But that sense of security is now gone, with  Sunday the sole day of the week without boot vans on the street.

“Now that’s messed up,” said a recently booted west side resident Greg Smith when asked about his thoughts on this change in enforcement policy. “Yes, I felt safe at night before. I was just shocked (when he was booted a few weeks ago), but I knew it was coming but didn’t know when.”

This new third shift, solely devoted to booting from 9:30 PM to 6 AM five days a week, will amount to an over 50% increase in the total hours of booting enforcement.

BOOTING BY THE NUMBERS

Year          Boots        % Increase

2005             48,365          7.1%

2006             55,641          15%

2007             58,898          5.8%

2008             63,515          7.8%

2009             65,420*         3%*

*Estimated

SOURCE: Chicago Dept. of Revenue

Over the past several years, the  Department of Revenue has gradually improved the speed and efficiency of the booting process which has resulted in impressive increases in vehicle immobilization since 2004.

24 hours a day, seven days a week booting was introduced at city owned parking lots located at both O’Hare Airport in 2002 and Midway Airport in 2005.

2007 saw the DOR invest $1.5 million to outfit 26 boot vans with license plate recognition units that allow each boot van to scan several thousand license plates per shift, instead of having to manually enter license plates into a database. The resulting increase in booting productivity was immediate.

Then in July 2008, a Saturday shift was added to further expand booting hours.

Additionally, changes in booting eligibility has increased the number of target vehicles for boot crews. Last fall, Mayor Daley and the City Council passed an ordinance that lowered the booting threshold to two unpaid tickets more than one year old. Of course, three unpaid tickets in final determination will get you on the seizure list immediately.

However, this seemingly mild change in boot eligibility has increased the number of boot eligible plates by 39% or 191, 655 additional vehiles in seizure status as of August 2009.

It stands to reason that because the estimates for 2009 do not reflect booting numbers for November and December with the new overnight shift, total boots applied will be substantially higher when final numbers are tallied for the year.

In addition, while official DOR budget estimates for total boots applied in 2010 is a paltry 66,000, based on the city’s aggressive new round the clock booting initiative, this massive increase in booting hours should translate into a number closer to 100,000 immobilized vehicles next year.

Financially, this additional enforcement should help reduce the budget deficit by a couple of million bucks just in booting fees and perhaps rake in tens of millions of dollars in unpaid tickets next year when booted drivers pay to get their vehicles released.

Unfortunately, if you are booted overnight, the very earliest your vehicle can be released, even if you pay immediately, is 6 AM. Late night/early morning payments are accepted at both Midway and O’Hare DOR facilities 24 hours a day.

Department of Revenue payment facilities open at 8 AM Monday through Friday, with the Addison St. location offering the latest hours until 6:30 PM. On Saturdays, only the Central Hearing Facility is open from 8 AM to 3:30 PM.

In the meantime, scofflaw motorists are either going to have to pay up or find a way to stay out of sight from the now omnipresent boot van.

“Now you’re going to have people looking out their windows all hours, hiding their cars or sleeping in their cars,” exclaimed Smith. “Swear to God!”

Department of Revenue spokespeople declined a request for comment.

66 Responses to Chicago Begins 24 Hour A Day Booting

  1. DORBooter says:

    The reason people get tickets is because they are ignorant to posted signs, think they are above everyone else, or just don’t care. Either way, enforced parking helps with safety, helps to ensure cars don’t monopolize prime spots, and also helps to bring in revenue. Most people on the “boot list” are scofflaws who were too lazy to pay/contest multiple tickets. The city sends numerous notices to collect the debt owed before they place anyone on the list. Millions in revenue is owed due to unpaid tickets. It’s either go to extremes like booting cars to collect or raise taxes, etc. To stay off the list, either pay or contest. Simple as that!!!

  2. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hey DORBooter!

    Thanks for the explanation. VERY interesting information–especially to a dork like me.

    Thanks!

  3. SS says:

    Sorry, incapacitating cars neither helps safety, nor frees up parking spots, prime or otherwise. In fact it assures spots will be monopolized and rush hour routes hindered until the car owner can bail out his car.

    Revenue, yes. It’s ALL about the revenue.

  4. windy citizen says:

    Hey geek!

    I came home from work today to find a lovely yellow shoe on my car. “That’s odd,” I thought, “I haven’t had any tickets. I should check on this.” I went inside, looked up my plate tags on the city’s ‘ticket finder’ website.

    Sure enough, no results came back. Same thing when I searched by VIN.
    I never got the tickets or letters of determination, so what gives?
    I went down to contest it, and the city says I have $500 in unpaid tickets, plus $60 for the boot. I pay the money, because I need my car to get to work and make money for important stuff. After all, if I lose my job, how ever will I pay for more parking tickets that I never actually got?

    I arrive home to find… my car has towed. Apparently they do this within 24 hours of booting you.

    So now I have to go back downtown to the pound, pay $160 to get my car out. Grand total for this wonderful adventure: $720. The car is worth $2000.

    My real question: how is anyone supposed to make it through a month if they’re paying $720 to the city?

    None of us have any recourse- we pay what the city says or else.

    I’m starting to think Skokie looks nice.

  5. windy citizen says:

    oh, and who can take off all the time from work unpaid to deal with this BS? When do we start booting Mayor Daley’s vehicles?

  6. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Dear Windy Citizen,

    This is a confusing the crap out of me.

    Is it possible the city has tickets from a looooooong time ago for a car you owned way back when?

    Did you try searching by your driver’s license number? Often. this search will bring up tickets from so far back you don’t even remember.

    Did you try having a boot hearing to determine if you were actually boot eligible?

    If you legitimately are NOT responsible for these tickets, I would have no problem looking at the info and seeing what’s going on. E-mail me back at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com and we can chat via e-mail.

    Normally, the city’s info is pretty accurate. Not always. But in most cases their info is pretty good.

    The Geek

    However, no one should have to pay for tickets they’re not legitimately responsible for.

  7. [...] It was just last November 1st, 2009 that the Chicago Department of Revenue began 24 hour booting. [...]

  8. Greg says:

    Are they still doing this? Because I have never seen a DOR van out at night. Ever.

  9. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    The last time (about two weeks ago) I drove by the DOR lot on Ashland around midnight, it was empty.

    About four weeks ago, there was a DOR boot van booting someone at 11 PM on my buddy’s street in the 33rd ward.

    Unless they changed policy VERY recently, it’s still going on.

  10. Greg says:

    Interesting. I see them during the day, but never at night.

  11. b says:

    I found out i had over 12 tickets on my car that were recieved when i wasn’t in posession of my car. I worked at a nightclub in the city and while i was working the valet parked my car illegally and now i have all these tickets. which have since tripled the original amount.the valet company is no longer around. any advice on what to do???????

    i owed about 1600 in tickets now, and DO NOT HAVE THAT MONEY, nor can I afford 700 for a payment plan. ive been taking the train into the city and not bring my car near chicago.

    is there a way to get these tickets back to the original ticket amount

  12. Capt. M-Plate says:

    Greg…you’re not supposed to see us at night.

  13. Greg H says:

    Hey Geek,

    A neighbor of mine in Berwyn bought a car some months ago and took the plates from the old car and placed them-illegally-on the newer car. They got a few tickets on that plate and then bought plates for the newer car. Now, they have tickets on both plates. My question is, are the tickets/boot list linked to the VIN, or just the plate? I know they are on the boot list for the old plate, but that one was destroyed. The new plate has tickets, but is not yet on the boot list.

  14. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Greg H.

    This is a somewhat hazy area.

    The city’s databases are getting better and better. If you own multiple vehicles with unpaid tickets on all of them, and are on the boot list for one or more vehicles, ANY of your vehicles can be booted.

    My brother had a car and a motorcycle. Two tickets on the car, one on the motorcycle. Got on the boot list. Paid off the two tickets on the car. Forgot to pay the motorcycle ticket and then got his car ticketed because he didn’t pay off ALL the tickets under his name.

    HOWEVER, with new cars with new plates, it takes time for that vehicle’s plate info to make it into the city databases.

    If you keep the plate clean, in other words, free of unpaid tickets, that vehicle won’t necessarily be linked to the other plate on the boot list. It CAN be, but your odds are lessened.

    My advice to your friends would be to pay the tickets on the new car ASAP!!!! Then hope for the best.

    Otherwise, tell them to keep their car off the streets of Chicago.

  15. Capt M-Plate says:

    Geek…we work daily with the Sec State to Cross reference plates and owners to ensure that scofflaws like Greg’s friend get what they deserve.

  16. Thomas gur says:

    Saw to guys with a six foot pry bar trying to remove one the other day. I feel sorry for anyone that has to park on the street down town. Dealing with those street light cameras is bad enough. They go after crack windshields and missing head lights just about anything they can do to make you eligible for the boot. Back when I was a teenager I got upset just over getting a street cleaning ticket. So upset I wanted to hook the transformer from a neon sign to my wiper blades. Down town they go around and tie the street cleaning signs on and I sure hope it is on the same days every month or I think it is as bad as you can get. I thank God I do not live in Chicago and from what I here it is getting to where people do not even want to go down there any more because of the rising cost of parking. Cook Country is getting way out of control with taxes as well. At least the people that go down south and buy $15.000 dollars worth of cigarettes are making a good profit. Just say no to Chicago where do I get that bumper sticker?

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