Brookfield officials are looking to revive the long-dormant practice of booting the vehicles of people who repeatedly flout the village’s parking rules.
Village Manager Riccardo Ginex brought the issue to Brookfield’s board of trustees on Feb. 13, asking them to amend the existing code regarding vehicle immobilization in order to restart the practice of booting the vehicles of owners with five or more unpaid tickets.
While President Michael Garvey tabled discussion on the subject at the board’s Feb. 13 committee of the whole meeting, it appears likely that police will get the green light to begin booting vehicles in the near future.
“I’m in favor of the policy,” said Garvey in a separate interview. “These are scofflaws. They are aware of their obligation, and there is a way to avoid being booted. Pay attention to the parking laws of the village or pay your fines when you get a ticket.”
Brookfield has three “boots,” the vehicle immobilization devices police can place on a front wheel of a car to prevent its owner from driving it. And Brookfield’s police department used the boots in the past to force parking ticket scofflaws to pay up.
However, at some point over the past decade or so, the policy was abandoned. According to Garvey, there was no written policy ordering police to stop the practice, and there seems to be some uncertainty as to why and when it was stopped and who made the decision.
“Six to eight years back was the last time we booted a car is the institutional memory,” said Garvey. “No one can specifically remember why.”
While most people pay their parking tickets, there are quite a number of folks who have five or more outstanding tickets, according to a recent report generated by the police department.
The report states that, in 2011, there were 71 people with more than five unpaid parking tickets. In total those 71 people accounted for 611 unpaid tickets. Assuming that each ticket was for $35 and have had a $15 late fee tacked on to them, the amount of money due in fines is about $30,000.
Further, there are 10 people whom the village considers super scofflaws, with more than 10 unpaid tickets. One person in 2011, a commuter, according to Ginex, had a whopping 62 unpaid parking tickets.
“You have to be a habitual violator to rack up that many tickets,” Garvey said.
The village has even gone so far as to threaten suspension of a repeat offender’s driver’s license. Several licenses have been suspended, said Ginex, but the scofflaws aren’t fazed.
On Feb. 13, Ginex brought forward an amendment to the village code to allow police to begin booting vehicles. However, it was tabled after officials realized that the authority appears to be already on the books.
In October 2008, the village board passed a comprehensive rewrite of Brookfield’s code to allow for minor traffic matters to be resolved by a village adjudicator instead of in circuit court.
In that law is a provision for booting vehicles whose owners have five or more unpaid parking tickets. The law states that before the village can boot a vehicle, officials must send notice to the owner by mail that the vehicle is eligible for booting.
A vehicle owner can contest that notice before an adjudicator or pay the outstanding fines. If they don’t and the village boots the vehicle, the owner will have to pay not only the fines but a $100 immobilization fee before the boot will be removed.
If village officials find that the law currently on the books is enough to move forward, they will instruct police to start booting vehicles, starting with the worst offenders.
Prior to any action, those vehicle owners will be notified.
“There has to be some incentive for these people to settle up on their fines,” said Trustee Kit Ketchmark.