Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is a scofflaw?
A. A scofflaw is someone who has four or more overdue, unpaid parking tickets on one vehicle.

Q. What is a Courtesy Notice?
A. Courtesy Notices are placed on vehicles where records indicate 3 overdue, unpaid parking tickets. The City of Seattle is making these notices available to give motorists an additional reminder before further action is necessary. This notice is also to let vehicle owners know that they are one ticket away from having their vehicle immobilized with a boot device.

Q. What is a 30-Day Notice?
A. 30-Day Notices may be placed on vehicles where records indicate 4 or more overdue, unpaid parking tickets. Consistent with Seattle Municipal 11.35 Code, thirty days after this notice is placed on the vehicle the plate will be moved to the Scofflaw list and eligible to have their vehicle immobilized with a boot device.

Q. I don't want to get "booted," but what can I do to prevent it if I can't pay all of my outstanding parking tickets?
A. For tickets that are not yet in collections, you may be able to set up a time payment arrangement with the Court, to spread payments out over a period of time. If you are currently receiving federal or state poverty assistance, you may be able to perform community service to pay off tickets that are not yet in collections. For parking tickets in collections, you may be able to set up a time payment arrangement with the Court's collection agency.

Q: If I don't pay my tickets, and my vehicle is booted, can I get community service or set up a time payment plan with the Court to get my vehicle back?
A: If your vehicle is booted, you must pay all parking tickets that are in collections and associated fees to PayLock or to the Court's collection agency. The collection agency may set up a time-payment plan with a minimum down payment of $200 or 10 percent of the amount owed, whichever is greater. If you set up a payment plan and you miss a payment, your vehicle will become eligible to be booted again. If it is booted again, you will have to pay in full to get the boot removed; a time payment plan will no longer be an option. You cannot use community service to get the boot removed.

Q. Will there be a fee for being booted?
A. Yes. The $145 fee covers the vendor's charge for use of its boot devices and customer services.

Q. How will the City find scofflaws?
A. Scofflaws are identified by vehicles equipped with "license plate recognition" (LPR) technology, operated by the Seattle Police Department. LPR systems are able to "read" up to 10,000 plates per day on vehicles parked on city streets and compare them against a database of plates in scofflaw status. When the system finds a match, it alerts the operating officer, who will place a boot on the vehicle after verifying its scofflaw status. The system will be checking for stolen vehicles at the same time it is looking for scofflaw vehicles.

Q. Can the City boot a scofflaw vehicle if it is parked on private property or in a privately owned parking lot? 
A. No.

Q: How will I know that my vehicle has been booted?
A: The boot device is painted yellow to ensure visibility. Typically, an 8.5-inch by 11-inch water-resistant notice will be affixed to the driver's window, and a copy placed under the windshield wiper.

Q. How will I get a boot released from my vehicle?
A. The notice on the vehicle includes a 24/7 toll-free phone number for PayLock, the City's boot vendor. A PayLock customer service representative will take your payment or advise you how to contact the Court to dispute the vehicle's scofflaw status. A boot will be released when all overdue tickets and fees are paid, or if the City determines that the motorist is not responsible for the unpaid tickets.

Q: What about tickets that were issued to the vehicle before the current owner purchased it?
A: The City checks with the WA State Department of Licensing (DOL) to make sure that only vehicles with four or more unpaid, overdue parking tickets issued after the last transfer of title will be booted. A vehicle will be released without charge if the appropriate state's licensing agency's records indicate that the current legal owner is not responsible for four or more unpaid, overdue tickets.

Q: What if I have an Out-of-State plate?
A: You can be booted if you have four or more tickets in the City of Seattle and have an out-of-state plate.

New Washington residents are allowed thirty days from the date they become residents to obtain Washington registration for their vehicles. If you are registered to vote in Washington, receive benefits under a Washington public assistance program, or have declared residency in Washington to obtain a state license or tuition fees at resident rates, you are probably required to display Washington license plates on your vehicle. (RCW 46.16A.140)

The licensing of a vehicle in another state by a resident of this state, as defined in RCW 46.16A.140, thereby evading the payment of any tax or license fee imposed in connection with registration, is a gross misdemeanor punishable, in lieu of the fine in subsection A of this section, as follows:

  1. For a first offense, up to three hundred sixty-four (364) days imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Twenty-Nine dollars ($529) plus any applicable assessments, plus a fine of One Thousand dollars ($1000) plus any delinquent taxes and fees, no part of any of which may be suspended or deferred and which must be deposited according to RCW 46.16A.030;
  2. For a second or subsequent offense, up to three hundred sixty-four (364) days imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Twenty-Nine dollars ($529) plus any applicable assessments plus a fine of Five Thousand dollars ($5000) plus any delinquent taxes and fees, no part of any of which may be suspended or deferred and which must be deposited according to RCW 46.16A.030.

Q: If I have not registered my vehicle yet, will the Court accept a bill of sale as proof of the purchase date? 
A: No, there must be a title or report of sale on file with the appropriate state's vehicle licensing agency that supports the motorist's claims of ownership and purchase date.

Q: What forms of payment will PayLock accept over the telephone?
A: PayLock accepts credit cards, debit cards, and bank account transfers.

Q. What if I can't pay by credit card (or other telephone payment)?
A. The Court's collection agency will accept cash payments, money orders, or cashier's checks. The driver must pay in person during business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the collection agency's customer service windows on the first floor of the Seattle Municipal Court, 600 Fifth Avenue, at the King County Jail (Monday through Friday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), or at any of the collection agency's other locations and hours of operation. (AllianceOne has offices in Gig Harbor and the municipal or district courts of Tukwila, Marysville, Kitsap County, and Clark County.)

Q: After I pay the amount due, how is the boot removed?
A: Seattle is using "smart boots," which can be released by the driver by entering a code into a keypad on the boot device. The code is provided to the driver by a PayLock customer service representative after the motorist pays the overdue tickets and fees. Payments by credit card or bank transfer can be handled by telephone call to a call center that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, resulting in a release within minutes.

Q. What if I can't safely remove or lift the boot device?
A. The boot device weighs about 16 pounds. Seattle Police Department personnel will be dispatched to remove the device for those unable or unwilling to release the boot themselves.

Q. Where can I return the boot once I have removed it?
A. After removing the boot, you can drop off the boot at a designated drop-off site within two days of release. The return locations will be printed on the notice that is placed on the vehicle when the boot is applied. Locations and hours:

    • Dick's Towing, 10140 W Marginal Pl S, Tukwila, 
      24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Lincoln Towing, 3919 Pasadena Place N.E.
      24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Lincoln Towing, 12220 Aurora Ave. N.
      24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Southeast Neighborhood Service Center, 3815 S. Othello St., Suite 105
      Monday -- Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • University Neighborhood Service Center, 4534 University Way N.E.
      Monday -- Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
      Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you do not return the boot within two calendar days of release, a fine of $25 per day can be levied, up to $500 maximum (after 20 days). Motorists who anticipate a delay in returning the boot are urged to contact PayLock via the phone number provided on the boot notice as soon as possible.

Q: What if I try to cut, break, or otherwise remove or damage a boot?
A: Anyone who damages a booting device may be charged a replacement fee and/or prosecuted for the crime of property destruction (SMC 12A.08.020).

Q: What rights do I have if I believe that my vehicle should not have been booted and/or impounded?
A: The registered owner of a vehicle that has been immobilized or impounded by the City has 30 days from the release of the boot to request a hearing at Seattle Municipal Court. The owner may request a hearing after payment to release the boot, or after impoundment, with or without payment to redeem the vehicle. If the vehicle is impounded and the owner does not pay to redeem the vehicle, s/he may request a hearing to be held within two business days.

Q: What is the purpose of a hearing? Can I challenge the validity of the overdue tickets?
A: The hearing is an opportunity to challenge whether the vehicle had four or more overdue tickets and was immobilized and impounded in accord with state and local laws. The hearing is NOT an opportunity to challenge any of the overdue tickets themselves, as those opportunities have already passed.

Q. Why doesn't the City just tow scofflaw vehicles instead of booting them?
A. Removing a "smart" boot is cheaper and easier for those affected. Towing a vehicle is a time-consuming, burdensome process for vehicle owners as they have to find a ride to the impound lot and it doesn't allow for the vehicle owners to readily access their personal belongings, such as baby car seats, prescription drugs, or important paperwork left in a vehicle.