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Patrol Banned from Booting Ticket Dodgers

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DURHAM — They are volunteers-- regular folks like you and me. For two months, citizen patrol members in Durham have written tickets and have given people the boot. But now a judge has taken away their power to put the brakes on people who park illegally.

In Durham for now, the boot is off the streets. It's the 500 pound gorilla of parking enforcement. Actually, the boot weighs about 25 pounds, but the effect is the same. If it's on your car, your car isn't going anywhere.

Durham's new courtesy patrol began giving the boot to cars owned by people with three or more unpaid parking tickets. But, a Durham judge has issued a temporary restraining order, banning the boot, while its constitutionality is debated in court. The courtesy patrol is pretty unhappy about the situation.

"First of all, don't park illegally," says Carl Wilson of the courtesy patrol. "Secondly, if you do park illegally and you get a ticket, pay it and be done with it."

Since it hit the streets July 6th, the courtesy patrol has brought in thousands of dollars in parking ticket revenue. But, a local attorney says the boot goes too far.

"Our complaint is they're taking people's property without due process," explains attorney Todd McCurry. "The amount of the property, the value of your car greatly exceeds any interest and penalty on a $20 parking ticket. Even if there is a lot of them, it just doesn't seem fair."

If the courtesy patrol finds a car that qualifies for the boot, police can tow it and impound it, until the owner pays up.