Private Booting Information

A boot is a mechanical device that is designed to immobilize an automobile.  In addition to the booting operations performed by the City of Chicago under the public Boot Program, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection licenses and regulates private vehicle booting businesses in the city of Chicago.  These businesses perform booting operations on private property and in private parking lots on behalf of other private businesses.

Private booting companies are subject to specific regulatory requirements detailed in section 4-6-230 (“Booting of Motor Vehicles”) of the Chicago Municipal Code. 

General questions

Q: How do I know whether a parking lot is subject to booting restrictions?  How do I determine the terms of use for the lot?

Every booting company is required to post a minimum of two signs at each location where it performs booting operations.  These signs must display, among other information, the terms of use of the subject property, the fee for boot removal, and the contact information and 24-hour phone number for the booting company.

Generally, a parking lot’s terms of use require that an individual patronize specific businesses in order to use the parking lot.  However, it is important to review each lot’s posted terms of use, as they will vary from location to location.

Q: How do I know whether an individual is an employee of the booting company?

Each employee of a booting company is required to wear an identification placard displaying the employee’s name and the name and contact information of the booting company.

Q: How much can a booting company charge for boot removal?

A booting company may not assess a fee in excess of $170.00 to remove a boot.

Q: Do I have to pay the removal fee in cash?

No.  In addition to cash, a booting company is required to have available means for collecting fees via credit card.

Booting scenario questions

Q: My vehicle was booted for barely violating the lot’s terms of use or for only violating the terms of use for a few minutes.  Should I have been booted?

The duration or scope of violation is irrelevant to the question of whether you have violated the lot’s terms of use, unless expressly stated otherwise in the terms of use.

Q: I patronized a business covered by the lot’s terms of use but was booted for patronizing businesses not covered by the lot’s terms of use.  Should I have been booted?

You are not permitted to violate the lot’s terms of use.  Even if you first patronize an authorized business before violating the lot’s terms of use, you have still violated the lot’s terms of use.

Q: My vehicle was booted even though I was parked in accordance with the displayed terms of the lot.  Should I have been booted?

Booting companies are expressly prohibited from attaching boots to vehicles parked in accordance with the terms of use for the subject property.

Q: My vehicle was booted while I or another individual was in the vehicle.  Should I have been booted?

Booting companies are expressly prohibited from attaching boots to occupied vehicles.  Pets do not qualify as vehicle occupants.

Q: My vehicle was booted and I was unaware of the lot’s terms of use because the terms were not posted or not visible at the lot.  Should I have been booted?

Booting companies are required to post at least two conspicuous signs detailing the lot’s terms of use and are in violation of the Chicago Municipal Code if they fail to do so.

Q: I returned to my vehicle while my vehicle was in the process of being booted.  Should I have been booted?

A booting company must immediately remove a boot from any vehicle, at no charge, if the owner of vehicle returns prior to complete attachment of the boot.

Additional booting company duties

Booting companies must:

  • Maintain copies of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection’s “Consumer Bill of Rights” and make them available upon request of any person;
  • Maintain copies of the “Booting of Motor Vehicle” section of the Chicago Municipal Code and make them available upon request of any person;Maintain minimum business hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm;
  • Maintain copies of receipts for a period of at least three years from the date of issuance;
  • Comply with Section 4-6-230(g)(5) of the Municipal Code of Chicago which identifies where private booting operations are permitted.

     

Upon attachment of a boot, booting companies must:

  • Place a copy of the “Consumer Bill of Rights” on the windshield of every vehicle that is booted;
  • Provide the owner of a booted vehicle with a legible receipt listing:
  1. The date and time the boot was placed on the vehicle;
  2. The date and time the owner returned to the vehicle;
  3. The date and time the boot was removed from the vehicle;
  4. The vehicle owner’s right to pay the fee by credit card.

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