Monday, August 16, 2004
Lockyer Says Private Firm Cannot Use ‘Boot’ on Car Parked Without Property Owner’s Permission
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A property owner cannot contract with a security firm to apply a wheel immobilizing device or “boot” to a vehicle that has been parked without the owner’s permission, Attorney General Bill Lockyer has concluded.
In an opinion requested by Ventura District Attorney Gregory D. Totten and issued Thursday, the attorney general said that affixing a boot would constitute tampering with a vehicle, a violation of Vehicle Code Sec. 10852.
Lockyer noted that statutes govern the actions that property owners can take when vehicles have been impermissibly parked on their premises. The Vehicle Code provides that an owner may notify local law enforcement, and if the car is not removed within an hour after that, may call a towing company and have the vehicle taken to the nearest public garage.
Such steps may only be taken, however, if a proper warning sign is displayed, the vehicle was ticketed at least 96 hours before being towed, the vehicle lacks necessary operating equipment and the owner is notified at least 24 hours before towing occurs, or the vehicle is parked on the same premises as a single-family dwelling.
The immobilizing of an impermissibly parked vehicle, Lockyer went on to explain, is permitted in only one instance: when the vehicle is parked on the highway or on public land and the owner has five or more unanswered parking citations. In that instance, the vehicle may be immobilized until the citations, and any other unpaid traffic tickets the owner might have, are cleared.
“It is readily apparent that a private security firm, pursuant to a contract with a property owner, is not allowed...to immobilize a vehicle impermissibly parked in a private parking lot,” the attorney general declared.
“The Legislature’s authorizations for towing and immobilizing parked vehicles constitute “exceptions” to the more general ‘tampering’ prohibition of section 10852....Since the Vehicle Code does not authorize the placement of a ‘boot’ on a vehicle parked in a private parking lot, the general prohibition of section 10852 would be applicable to such ‘tampering.’”
The opinion, No. 03-1204, was prepared for Lockyer by Deputy Attorney General Susan Duncan Lee.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company