About 450 people -- including one who owes Beaufort for 39 parking tickets -- could have their vehicles booted the next time they park illegally.
The Beaufort Police Department and Lanier Parking Solutions are resuming a practice that hasn't been used for more than two years -- attaching a wheel boot to immobilize the vehicles of those with unpaid tickets.
As of Monday, $41,565 in tickets was overdue, said Lundy Baker of Lanier, which is contracted to handle city parking. According to city code, a vehicle can be booted if the owner has at least three tickets that are overdue by 15 days or more.
"We're not trying to make life difficult for people, but if you get a parking ticket, pay the ticket," Police Chief Matt Clancy said. "... You need to take care of it one way or another. You just can't ignore it."
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Tickets are given for violations that include expired meters, parking in illegal spots and parking the wrong way. They start at $10 and go to $20 if not paid. Other than booting the vehicle, there are no repercussions for not paying fines, Clancy said.
Police began using the boots in the early 2000s but stopped when the city hired Lanier, instead of police officers, to enforce parking.
"It just kind of fell off the radar a little bit," Clancy said.
Lundy recently brought the parking ticket numbers to Clancy, and they agreed to start using the boots again at the beginning of January. So far, seven vehicles have been booted.
When Lanier employees write a ticket, they list other outstanding tickets on the document, Lundy said. If there are three or more, the employee can call for a police officer to confirm the results, and the officer stays while the Lanier employee installs the boot.
Unless outstanding fines -- plus $50 for removing the boot -- are paid before 6 p.m. that day, the vehicle will be towed to the Police Department impound lot, where it will cost another $150 to reclaim.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.