Bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) will tighten and clarify the rules concerning immobilization, commonly referred to as booting. This measure makes it clear municipalities are prohibited from making, amending, or enforcing an ordinance that authorizes the booting of a motor vehicle under any circumstance other than when there is an outstanding warrant against the motor vehicle. The bill comes on the heels of press reports questioning the legality of the city of Hoboken’s booting policy.
Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, a longtime Hoboken resident, says the legislation should clear up any grey area in the state law and put the brakes on overly aggressive municipal ordinances that harm motorists and businesses.
“For far too long, visitors and Hoboken residents have been subjected to a draconian booting policy that penalizes even those who have no outstanding warrants. This appears to be a predatory practice that aims to fill city coffers. And it may deter people from patronizing our businesses for fear it could prove to be a costly mistake if they park in the wrong spot.”
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who has been a vocal critic of red light cameras, is also taking aim at unfair booting policies. “It’s really a shame we would need a law like this in the first place. The fact that common human decency alone isn’t enough to persuade the people perpetuating this rip off to stop immediately, says something sad about the individuals in charge.”
Wilson Vega Jr., a Matawan resident who says his pregnant wife had a harrowing experience when her car was booted in Hoboken recently, applauds this bi-partisan bill. “It’s bad enough my pregnant wife had to pay a hefty fine, she also had to return the boot or wait several hours until someone could come get it, “said Vega. “It’s outrageous.”
“This is just a blatant abuse of motorists,” said O’Scanlon. “You’ve got handicapped people, senior citizens returning from dinner, single women, anybody really.”
The cost for a booting bill can exceed $200. “That’s a financial hardship for many residents,” said Garcia. “And if you don’t have a credit card to make the payment by phone, you could be stranded.”
The bill, A-3225, is expected to considered by a legislative committee in the coming weeks.