What to do When Your Car is Booted

When you went to your car you found the city has installed a boot on the front wheel. What is going on? And, what can you do?


The city of Chicago aggressively seeks to “boot” cars. In fact, they have specially equipped vehicles that can read license plates as they go up and down streets including side streets as well as main streets. They even scan cars at O’Hare and Midway airports. Chicago is not alone either. Many cities and towns aggressively use ticket revenue to balance their budgets.

The city can boot a vehicle if it has 3 or more unpaid parking, red lights, and/or automated speeding tickets.

This number of tickets is reduced to 2 tickets if the tickets are more than one year old.

If the boot is not removed within 24 hours the car can be towed to a city lot. Once there they will charge towing fees of $150 and storage fees of  $20 per day for the first five days then increase it to $35 per day.

Once the vehicle is towed after a certain amount of time the city can actually sell the vehicle or destroy it.


First of all, you might be able to raise the funds necessary to pay the tickets (which will have doubled) and the amount for the booting assessment of $60 and, if towed another $150 plus storage. If you have the money, you can go to the impound lot. These lots are usually out of the way and open for limited business hours. You don’t get your car back until you pay all charges. Payments must be made in cash, money order, certified funds, or by a credit card.


Many people who find themselves in this predicament seek relief in Chapter  13. Once a Chapter 13 case is filed the city will release the vehicle with a payment of $72.

When you file a  Chapter 13 you get on a payment plan that pays all your debts. When you don’t have much money left after paying rent, gas for your car,  utilities, and food, then unsecured debts such as parking tickets can be repaid at a small dividend. Most of our clients have their cases confirmed paying unsecured debts at ten cents on the dollar or less.


You may have tickets you don’t even know about. If someone else uses your car and gets a parking ticket, red light violation, or camera speeding ticket, you will be personally responsible. This is because the ticket follows the car, not the driver. Next, the boot installed on the vehicle is city property. Removing it yourself is illegal and considered theft. Finally, if you file a Chapter 7 you might get the boot removed but tickets are not dischargeable. After the case is over you face the same problem – booting and driver’s license suspension – unless you paid all the tickets.

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