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City Considering 'Self-Release' Denver Boots For Cars

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 20, 2015 7:00PM

Photo credit: Viewminder
Next to having one’s car towed, seeing a Denver boot on a vehicle is the bane of a motorist’s existence. We’ll never forget the time we saw someone leave Frontera Grill to find a boot on his car’s tire. He got in his car, started it, put it in drive and floored the gas pedal, lodging the boot in the wheel well and sending a plume of burning tire smoke wafting in the air as he drove down Clark Street.

The City is looking to make it easier for motorists to have booted cars freed but it could come with a price. The Emanuel administration is looking at the possibility of using “self-release” boots for motorists with unpaid tickets and wants a company to manage implementing a program where drivers, after they pay their outstanding tickets and have the boots released, can drop off the boots for locking someone else’s wheels.

The city sent a request for bid on the program this week, which includes a “boot release fee” when "an operator or owner of a booted vehicle avails themselves of the self-release services." City spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said the bidding process is still in the request phase, so right now the Emanuel administration “is looking to see how responses look with regard to some of these details."

Self-release boots are becoming more common. In New York City, where they’ve been in use for three years, drivers receive a release code once outstanding fines have been paid by phone or in person. Once the boot has been released, the driver has 24 hours to return the boot to a drop-off location or incur fees of $25 per day. A $159 “boot fee” is charged to the motorist and the car is towed if the boot remains locked for longer than 48 hours, meaning the owner of the car incurs added fees in towing and storage charges.

In Chicago, where cars can be booted if a driver receives three tickets or has two tickets that have been unpaid for over a year, the concept of a self-release boot program could be a financial windfall for the city and the company chosen to handle the program. Langsdorf said additional fees aren’t currently part of the RFP process, but she believes the convenience of a self-release boot program would be welcome to drivers.

"While it is still to be determined how and if people will use this service, we expect that there are motorists, especially those who are booted after-hours, that will appreciate having this option available to them," Langsdorf said.