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The city of Los Angeles hopes to collect more than $21 million in fines and fees for illegal parking and other traffic violations. The city hopes to accomplish this with the help of a new ‘Smart Boot’ car locking technology. The city originally stopped using car boots back in 2009, replacing them with traditional car towing services.

With the use of a tool that scans license plates, law enforcers can search through a database for vehicles with five or more outstanding tickets.

The technology consists of a car boot which can be unlocked with the use of a QR code. The new boot is also lighter than those previously used by the city. This can help make the job of attaching it safer for the officers involved. Once executed, the new smart boot will be used only on vehicles that have 5 or more outstanding traffic tickets.

For the car owner to unlock the boot, he has to pay all the outstanding fines over the phone, in person, or by sending the QR code (with payment) over the phone. Once the fines have been paid, the owner will be sent the unlock code. The unlocking process will take around 10 minutes in order to completely free the car. The owner then has 24 hours to return the car boot, or they face fines of $25 per day, up to a maximum of $500.

Car boots are essentially locks placed on the car tire, which prevents the car from moving. The older car boots can only be unlocked by the authorities, although they may be destroyed by forcing the car to drive. This however can damage the car, and also counts as a violation. The smart boots weigh approximately 16 lbs. and can be placed on the car wheel much faster than ordinary car boots. This makes it simpler, safer, and faster for enforcement officers to put them in place.

New Boots Make it Easier to Collect Fines

Car Boot that collects fines with QR code.

The newer car boots still work based on the same principle. However, these are lighter, allowing law and traffic enforcement officers to bring more of them along at one time. Initially, Los Angeles ordered 300 smart boots, but will be ordering more if the plan is implemented successfully. The smart boot technology has been utilized in Oakland since 2009, while Berkeley has been using these since 2011.

The use of this technology relies on a lot more than just QR codes and smartphone payment options. It also uses new methods for scanning vehicles and quickly compares them against an existing database. The vehicle scanning method can be expanded and used for other purposes including profiling, and subsequently, vehicle and driver location tracking. Yet, we still do not know how frequently the vehicle scanned database is scrubbed and purged. The new data comes in daily and can be used to compare the past days, weeks, or months of data.

For the city, this is a quick and easy way of getting drivers to pay their fines. With the use of a tool that scans license plates, law enforcers can search through a database for vehicles with five or more outstanding tickets. When the vehicle is found, an officer in the area is informed and the smart boot is installed. The aim is not to catch new violators, but to find those with multiple outstanding violations. In this manner, the city will be able to collect a significant portion of the $21 million in outstanding fines.