Help may be on the way for motorists in Northport who suffering sticker shock over how much it can cost to remove "boots" and other immobilization devices from improperly parked vehicles.

For those unfamiliar with the practice, a driver who parks in a forbidden or reserved spot or exceeds a posted time limit can either be towed off that property or "booted," where a company affixes a locked clamp or another immobilization device to one of the vehicle's wheels. The motorist must then pay to have the boot removed.

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Leaders in Northport say some companies are charging exorbitant fees to unlock the clamps and set the vehicle free again -- reportedly sometimes in excess of $500.

The Northport City Council will begin considering an ordinance Monday night that would set a legal limit on how much companies who elect to use immobilization devices can charge to remove them.

The ordinance being considered would allow a maximum fee of $80 for the immobilization of a vehicle weighing less than 26,000 pounds and $162.50 for any vehicle weighing more than that.

The ordinance also says a vehicle cannot be immobilized or "booted" if the driver returns to the scene and agrees to leave the parking space in question before the installation of the device is complete.

The resolution will be introduced for a first reading Monday night, and the council could either vote on the matter at their next regular meeting or they could suspend normal rules and pass the resolution immediately after a first reading Monday, although that would require a unanimous vote of the five-member council.

A similar law is already in place in Tuscaloosa-- in 2015, leaders there adopted a resolution capping the fee for removing an immobilization device at $60 per day a vehicle is improperly parked.

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on the council's actions as they come in.

Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (10/17 - 10/24)

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