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Morning Spew

It’s Wednesday and These Boots Were Made for Bootin’

You might have noticed a few more immobilized cars lately, and other links to start your beautiful fall day.

5:42 AM EDT on October 12, 2022

(Blazing Furby? / Hell Gate)

Cars—they’re just like us. Sometimes, they just love to accessorize. In the case of thousands of cars with delinquent ticket payments in New York City, they’re now sporting some shiny green boots. 

According to The City, the NYC Sheriff’s Office, which is in charge of the city’s “booting” program, has been quickly ramping back up its fine collection for tickets racked up by drivers during the pandemic. So far, the city has collected $80 million in delinquent payments owed by drivers after threatening to boot their cars for late payments on parking violations, speeding, and blowing red lights.

But with an estimated $310 million still owed to the city, the leniency has ended, and the city has begun to give them the boot. In August and September, more than 20,000 cars ended up with boots. The median amount that people end up doling out to pay off their tickets, and get their boots off, has ticked up from the amount it was before the pandemic—to $964, The City found. 

While the boots might raise some money for a city convinced it’s already in a fiscal crisis, they might not have that much of an impact on deterring reckless driving and drivers who flout the city’s speed and red light cameras. As Hell Gate found last month, many speeding drivers in the city simply skirt enforcement by using fake or expired license plates. The Sheriff’s Office has recently begun to crack down on some people using these fake license plates, although as Gothamist noted over the summer,  the perpetrators are often the ones supposed to be doing the policing. Amidst these efforts (or lack thereof), low-income people who need cars for work find themselves squeezed on all sides—they have to live in the least transit-served parts of the city, paying more of their income in rent than ever, with sky-high insurance premiums standing between them and a legal license plate. That doesn’t mean fake plates are the answer, but for some people, it is their reality, and more fines probably aren’t going to solve it. 

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