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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Car booting is now banned statewide. It is illegal for any person, business—even the police department— to clamp a boot on vehicles. The bill passed through the Hawai'i State Legislature in April and became law Tuesday without the Governor's signature.
Just a few months ago, business was booming for Sean Starn – that's no longer the case.
"We shut down. We're going to respect the law and stop booting," said Starn, who owns Hawai'i Boot Removal. Starn's company clamped boots on illegally parked cars and charged drivers $160 dollars to take them off. The practice upset a lot of people and drew scrutiny to the unregulated industry.
Booting was such a big problem for customers at Leonard's Bakery in Kapahulu, management was forced to post signs, both inside and outside, warning people about where they park.
Roberta Crighton was at Leonard's with her sons once when they wanted to park in the lot across the street and run over.
"I said, 'Oh, no no no. I'll wait in the car, ‘cause I panicked! I'm very legal, I don't break the law and I didn't want them to be towed," explained Crighton.
Hawai'i Boot Removal attorney Megan Kau says the new law now makes towing the only legal way for property owners to regulate parking.
"Unfortunately, I think drivers are going to have to face being towed, finding a ride there, paying a cab fee, paying for the high tow fees - I believe they are 200 to 250 dollars," described Kau. "I don't want to be towed and I don't want to be booted, but if I had to choose between the two, I'd rather be booted. I don't want somebody in my car. I don't want them to have access to my personal belongings," Kau explained.
In the meantime, Starn will be working with lawmakers on new legislation that would instead establish clear guidelines for the booting industry.
"The Governor hasn't endorsed the bill, so he's not supporting it. He has made a statement that the boot is a viable source of parking enforcement," said Starn. "There were a lot of people that were not for the ban, so hopefully we will be able to work through reasonable regulations for next year."
Prior to this law going into effect, the Office of Consumer Protection filed a complaint against Starn, Hawaii Boot Removal and other companies claiming the booting business was illegal. Starn says they're seeking unspecified damages and are still moving forward with their suit.