Many drivers may have been fined for parking illegally. In some areas, fines may include locking the wheels, rendering the vehicle unable to move until the fine is paid.
Apart from some vehicles being locked by local authorities, many cases are carried out by private companies.
Many people are sad due to this. In Atlanta, USA, people came across Boot Girls – two unknown women who ran a wheel unlocking service.
According to NPR, one of the two, Boots Sheasty, also experienced the car’s wheels locking. Instead of paying, he called a friend who had lock picking tools. Then he decided to buy his own kit.
Together, they call themselves the Boot Girls, running a service to break wheel locks for $50/lock. Although this is not a small amount compared to the fee of 75 USD or more for a wheel lock unit, many people are still willing to spend the money.
The question is, is this service legal in the US?
According to a social media post from the Atlanta Police Department, it is legal to have a wheel locking device, but “altering, tampering with, or opening a wheel locking device” can result in a felony. Encroachment, theft, damage to property.
“The owners of these businesses are licensed through independent contracts to lock or tow vehicles if they violate regulations in private parking areas,” the post said.
However, lawyer Matt Wetherington, who is also a director of the Wetherington law firm specializing in civil matters, disagrees.
He said that every year the police has to settle innumerable disputes related to non-implementation of wheel locks. He believes that the issue of breaking wheel lock is only a civil dispute and should not be escalated into a criminal case.
A famous case occurred in 2018 when a man was sued for unlocking his car. In the end, the court won for the car owner, arguing that one mistake cannot be used to punish another mistake. Basically, the judge said that failure by the car owner to follow parking rules is an encroachment on someone else’s property, but locking the wheels is also a reverse encroachment.
According to lawyer Wetherington, the Boot Girls service could change the law in America. Josh McLaurin – Georgia state senator – said there are several measures to fine vehicles that do not follow the rules, such as tickets instead of locking the wheels, towing the vehicle. In fact, he once proposed a draft to ban wheel locks, but it was not passed. They plan to present the draft again in the next session.
Wetherington believes the bill may pass this time, as the practice of locking wheels and breaking locks has grown to the point of becoming a social conflict, with Boot Girls becoming a phenomenon on social networks.