DURHAM — The city of Durham is trying to collect $1.2 million in unpaid parking fines. It has a new weapon that is guaranteed to get the attention of drivers.
Parking space is at a premium in downtown Durham. Joyce Dennis arrives early each day just to find a parking space before she goes to work.
"It's aggravating," she says. "And then the spots that are out here are 20 minutes or an hour. If you don't move your car in 20 minutes or an hour, you come outside and there's a ticket on your car."
Officers write dozens of parking tickets every day in the Bull City. A lot of people do not pay them. Now, the worst offenders are about to get the boot.
The boot locks tires in place, making it impossible to drive. Drivers with three tickets that are 90 days overdue will get booted the next time they are caught parking illegally.
Right now, there are 72 names on the list.
"They're sent a minimum of four letters, and at least one of those is a certified letter. So it's very hard to make an argument that they weren't aware it was in imminent danger of being booted," says Lt. Ed Sarvis of the Durham Police Department.
The boot does not come off until drivers pay the tickets.
Police hope the action will discourage people from parking illegally.
"If you do park illegally and receive a citation, be responsible enough to pay for it and you won't have this problem," suggests Sarvis.
The city has only booted five cars since starting the program in March.
The list of drivers who could get booted gets longer every day as the city's computer updates information about unpaid tickets.