Seven D.C. government cars were immobilized over the weekend with steel "boots" placed by police who said the cars had each accumulated four or more outstanding parking tickets.
Normally, boots can be removed and autos freed only upon payment of the tickets and associated penalties - which total $1,236 in the case of three of the city vehicles.
However, the situation involving the city cars, described as unprecedented in the experience of a senior member of the corporation counsel's office, appears more complex.
"The cars are titled in the (name of the) government," said Louis Robbins, the principal assistant corporation counsel, who asked: "How can you make the government pay itself?"
As of late yesterday, no way had been found, the situation had not been resolved, and the cars remained booted and incapable of being used.
"I've never run into this situation before," Robbins said in a telephone interview.
In placing boots, according to Deputy Police Chief Robert L. Rabe, commander of the Special Operations Division, police are not concerned with the ownership of the cars.
"If they have outstanding tickets and haven't paid them, we have to boot them," Rabe said. "That's the law, and we carry out the law."
The three booted cars that accumulated the $1,236 in fines and penalties are listed to the Narcotics Treatment Administration, according to official records. Full information about the other booted city cars was not immediately available.
Records show that one of the NTA cars has been cited for 31 parking violations, the second 15, and the third 11.
Dr. Fred West, administrator of the NTA said he learned of the situation only yesterday, but plans to determine who was assigned to the vehicles when they were ticketed.
"If we want our clients to obey the law," West said, "certainly we should set the example."
Two of the booted NTA cars were parked on G Street near the agency's offices at 613 G St. NW. One of the cars was in a nearby parking lot.
West said he would consult with the corporation counsel's office about the possibility of disciplinary action.
"I don't feet that driving a government car gives the driver freedom to park wherever he wants to for as long as he wants to," Robbins said. "There's no question, that sometimes you go in to make a delivery and get held up but at least, if you get a ticket, you should notify your supervisor."
Ordinarily, Robbins said, if the driver of a city car is ticketed, the ticket would be "adjusted" if the alleged violation is excusable. Otherwise, he said, the driver is required to pay.
He said he expected the situation to be resolved by today.