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


  1. What you should know about towing
    The amended Predatory Towing Prevention Act became effective in New Jersey on April 15, 2009. The amended Act regulates tows from private property, and tows initiated by law enforcement, without the prior consent of the vehicle's owner or operator.
    Towing from private property
    Unattended cars cannot be towed from private parking lots, unless:
     There is a sign, no smaller than 36" high by 36" wide, posted at vehicular entrances to the property stating:
    1. The purposes for which parking is authorized;
    2. The times when parking is permitted;
    3. That unauthorized parking is prohibited and
    unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense;
    4. The name of, and contact information for, the towing company and the address of the storage facility–which must be secure and located within a reasonable distance of the property–to which the
    vehicle will be towed;
    5. The charges for towing and storage and the times during which the vehicle may be redeemed; and
    6. Contact information for the Division of Consumer Affairs (1-800-242-5846).
     The property owner and the towing company have a contract for the towing and the property owner has authorized the towing company to remove the particular vehicle.
    The requirements do not apply to a single-family home or an owner-occupied multi-unit structure, and the signage requirements are different for a residential community with clearly marked assigned spaces for residents.
    Unlawful practices for towing companies
    The Act prohibits towing companies from the following:
     Failing to release a vehicle hooked or lifted, but not actually removed from private property, upon request of the vehicle's owner;
     Trolling (cruising) for vehicles parked without authorization;
     Paying for information about vehicles parked without
     Refusing to accept an insurance company check or a debit card, charge card, credit card or check for towing or storage services, if the towing company ordinarily
     accepts such payment at its place of business;
     Charging for a towing or storage service not on the Division's schedule of services; and
     Charging an unreasonable or excessive fee.
    Towing and storage charges:
    The towing company's fees must be reasonable.
    A reasonable fee is considered one that is no more than 25% greater than the company's fee for the same consensual (vehicle-owner approved) towing services, or no more than 50% above the fees charged by other towing companies in the community for the same towing services without the vehicle owner's permission.
    Towing and storage charges cannot exceed rates set by town ordinance.
    Vehicle Storage
    The Act requires that after a vehicle is towed:
     The vehicle must be stored in a secure facility;
     The facility's business office must be open to the public between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at least five days a week; and
     A towing company must make reasonable accommodation for after-hours release of stored vehicles. The towing company may charge for after-hours release.
    This information was prepared by the law firm of Ehrlich, Petriello, Gudin & Plaza P.C. headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. It is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney or other qualified professional to discuss your particular matter. The firm can be reached at (973) 643-0040 or on the web at

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