Plenty of Tickets, Boots, and Impound Fees on 'Parking Wars'
Parking Wars is a reality TV program on the A&E channel. It chronicles an average work day by parking meter ticketing people, tow truck drivers and booters, and the impound department where parking tickets must be paid after a vehicle is towed. The show is seen from the prospective of the city employees and the trials and tribulations they face while doing their job.
The show was a quick ratings success when it began in 2008. Now in its sixth season, the show’s popularity has grown, and more cities have been added. So far the cities covered by the show are Detroit, Providence, and Philadelphia. Hoboken, New Jersey is in line for future series coverage.
Tickets are issued for street and parking violations, including expired meters. A boot eligible vehicle has usually three or more unpaid tickets. If parking tickets are not paid over time, a large, bright yellow boot, or wheel clamp, is placed over the front driver’s wheel. This is to keep the vehicle owner from moving the car until the tickets are paid in full. If the outstanding tickets aren’t paid by the end of the day, the vehicle is towed and impounded in the city lot. If not claimed within 30 days, the vehicle is sold at a city auction.
Many are shocked when they get a boot. On several shows, a car owner bought their vehicle from someone else with outstanding parking tickets on it. The new owner kept the former owner’s license plates. The new owner is shocked and feel violated that he or she will have to pay the former owner’s tickets to get their car back. Others know they owe tickets, but try to get away with not paying them as long as they are able. They play a “Catch me if you can” game with the boot installers. Some owners successfully drive away even after the boot has been put on their vehicle.
Angry violators like to tear up the parking ticket in front of the meter man and the TV camera. People drive by and scream “Get a real job!” , or “You suck!” , or “The Parking Authority is full of s#*%” at them. The women are called the b-word on a regular basis. Some try to intimidate the meter man by storming into his personal space and swearing. Many confront the ticketer and argue or beg for the ticket to be cancelled. Some women try to sweet talk their way out of a ticket. Tickets are usually $31 to $76, depending on the offense, less if they pay within ten days.
This is a tough job. Like the police, the city workers take a lot of guff without responding in kind. They rarely get a smile or a compliment. As Phil in Philadelphia says, “I’m not ticketing the person; I’m ticketing the car.” For the record, meter people do not have a daily ticket quota or get a percentage of ticket money collected.
“Garfield” is a booter in Philadelphia and a 25-year enforcement employee for the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) who calmly goes about his daily work. His partner Sherry uses a computer which tracks the license plates on vehicles who owe several unpaid parking tickets and/or moving violations. Even large trucks get the boot. The trick for all city installers is to get the boot on before the owner runs out the street to stop them.
The impound lot is a little better in that there is a plastic window between the city employees and the car owners. This is where one has to pay in full to get their car out of the city lot. Hundreds of dollars are collected daily from unpaid boot and tow tickets. Yolanda, the Philadelphia impound lot supervisor does a good job of keeping the flow of customers from getting clogged down.
Regardless of where you live, you better have lots of money and your papers in good order if you want your car back from Impound. Drivers can’t get their cars unless they pay all outstanding fees; have a valid driver’s license and written and current proof of paid vehicle insurance.
Overall, the employees who participate in the show seem to love their job. There are many positive meter maids and men who take their difficult job in stride and with a sense of humor. Some of the meter enforcement people seem to get a kick or a thrill giving out tickets. Rodney in Detroit says he gets an adrenalin rush while trolling the streets for boot eligible vehicles. Veteran ticketers know where habitual offenders park. Those car owners seem to enjoy a cat-and-mouse game with the meter person. Can he illegally park and get his daily cup of coffee before the meter person shows up?
Other employees see their job as taking take of business for the city. Those like Deandre, aka “Ponytail” the meter man in Detroit, meter ticketers Brian, Marlene aka “Hair Spray”, and Pauly D in Philadelphia, Sonja the booter in Detroit, and Johnny Tickets in Providence seriously maintain the streets from illegal parkers. They are conscientious, willing to explain why a ticket is served, and have people in the community who understand they are just doing their job.
The Parking Wars series is not all Paradise There are those who are not happy with the series coverage of their city. Citizens say the show gives the city in question a bad name. With so many episodes dedicated to giving out tickets, boots and tow rides, who would want to visit? After a city government received many calls and emails from citizens saying the show sends the wrong message, the series creators had to respond. So, this year Philadelphia was removed from the series.
The series outlines issues that are probably similar in every city. The series shows vehicle owners have many responsibilities. Here are recurrent problems that people with cars have with the parking enforcement system.
- Don’t expect any mercy from a meter maid or boot person if you are illegally parked and not in your car
- When you buy a car, don’t keep the license plates that come with the car. Especially if you buy a car from a family member or friend. Turn in the old license plates and get new ones!
- In a high ticket location, there is no such thing as “I was only inside for a minute.” If you are illegally parked, you will get a ticket or a boot
- If your mechanic illegally parks your car on the street, or if it’s boot eligible, you will still get a ticket or towed away
- Don’t park on the sidewalk, ever
- Jumping in the car will not prevent you from getting a boot or towed
- Always carry your driver’s license, registration and current insurance papers with you
- If there are two handicapped people with vehicles who live in the same building, you will only get one handicapped sign in front of your house
- Know the difference between No Parking and No Standing
- Parking in a handicapped space will get you a very expensive ticket. A minimum of $100
- Feed the meter on time. Know which meter belongs to your car. Don’t park between meters
- Pay your tickets on time!
Parking Wars highlights the good, the bad, and the reality about parking in a Major City USA. The guilty pleasure is watching others deal with their parking issues from the comfort and safety of one’s home.
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