Thursday, August 28, 2014
To Boot or Not to Boot? Immobilizing Vehicles for Parking Violations*
Most community associations have rules and regulations in place governing the parking of vehicles. Violations are typically addressed by the issuance of a fine or, in some instances, towing of the vehicle. However, towing a vehicle in New Jersey requires compliance with the Predatory Towing Prevention Act. In light of this, many communities are now asking the question: instead of towing a vehicle, can we immobilize it with the placement of a wheel boot?
In New Jersey, provided that there is no prohibition otherwise contained in local municipal laws, community associations are likely permitted to immobilize unauthorized vehicles parked in common areas. Nevertheless, if the association is going to charge a fee for the removal of the boot, the association must still comply with the Predatory Towing Prevention Act, including posting the required signage and contracting with a licensed towing company to apply and remove the boot. This is because the Predatory Towing Prevention Act defines “towing” as “the moving or removing from public or private property…or the immobilization of…[a] motor vehicle, for which a service charge is made...” Consequently, a community association cannot immobilize a vehicle with the placement of a wheel boot if the association intends to charge a fee to remove the boot.
The prohibition on an association charging a fee for booting of a vehicle where a licensed towing company is not contracted does not prevent an association from booting a vehicle and imposing a fine for improperly parking a vehicle, assuming the appropriate parking rules have been adopted and the unit owner responsible is offered alternative dispute resolution before any fine is imposed.
If your community is considering or is interested in more information about booting vehicles for parking violations, please consult with your attorney.
*J. David Ramsey, Esq. and Jennifer A. Loheac, Esq. contributed to this article.