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New senate bill looking to give the 'boot' to booting cars in Georgia

State Senator Josh McLaurin introduced Senate Bill 247 on Feb. 23. It would ban the enforcement of booting cars in Georgia.

ATLANTA — A new bill introduced in the Georgia state senate would give the "boot" to one of a driver's worst nightmares.

Democratic State Senator Josh McLaurin is gaining attention across the state from lawmakers with bipartisan support after he proposed a new bill to ban booting cars in the state of Georgia.

McLaurin tweeted: "Booting cars sucks. Let’s ban it." before introducing Senate Bill 247 -- one that if approved, would instantly become one of the more popular laws protecting Georgia drivers.

He then followed up that tweet with another.

"What I propose is a statewide booting ban," Senator McLaurin said. "We're long overdue for a total ban."

Within hours of Senator McLaurin introducing the bill, he tweeted a picture along with, "Strongly bipartisan sponsorship on the booting ban. Just filed it. Let’s ride."

As of late Thursday afternoon, Senator McLaurin said co-sponsors of the bill include said Senate Democratic Leader Gloria Butler along with Republican State Senators Bill Cowsert, Frank Ginn, Chuck Payne and Shawn Still. 

"My goal with this bill is to say this practice, we've seen it enough. It's been overused, it's been abused," Senator McLaurin explained.

11Alive reached out to several booting companies on Thursday. Many of our calls went to automated messages or just continued to ring with no answer. Jeff Phillips, the owner of Advanced Booting Services did answer and agreed to an interview over the phone.

"Most people who complain about booting are just upset they got caught," Phillips said.

Phillips doesn't believe a ban on booting cars would a good idea for private property owners. 

"It's limiting them on what they can do for enforcement on their own properties. It's going to leave them with one solution and that's towing which is much more expensive," Phillips said. 

11Alive did reach out through social media asking if anyone had ever been booted and if they think a ban on booting in a good idea. While none of the responses named Advanced Booting Services, at least one company was named over and over in several complaints.

"I got booted over the weekend, paid, and took 32 hours to remove the boot," one person said on Twitter.

Another person responded, "Get rid of booting, and just tow the cars instead. If there is signage, and they shouldn’t be parked in a given space, just tow them. Booting wastes time and doesn’t actually solve the problem. In fact, booting a car may lead to it remaining for a longer period of time." 

The one common complaint was how long it took for the companies to come out and remove the boot. 

Phillips said he's been operating his business since 1999. He said when it comes to his company, "Most boots are removed on the cars within 30 minutes, in fact the ordinance in Atlanta requires the boot to be off the car in an hour time frame."

He also said he's put extra measures in place to make sure his company is operating ethically. He admitted there are some bad apples out there, but his focus is his company. 

"One of things my company has done and there's a couple other companies doing this is we use body cameras," Phillips explained. "We can access it anytime."

Senator McLaurin said what he believes has happened is some of these companies who aren't operating ethically have ruined it for everyone. He said it boils down to oversight, something he said has been long overdue and time is up. 

"You'd literally have to have somebody there, that's the problem," Senator McLaurin said.  

Senate Bill 247 is expected to be assigned to a Senate committee on Monday. Senator McLaurin is hoping the bill will make it to a hearing. His goal is to get as many people in to express their concerns and experiences and help get this bill passed.

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