Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


Charleston testing parking enforcement tech that could give boots the boot 

Car wheel blocked by wheel lock because illegal parking violation

Photo: Getty Images

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston parking officers will begin a pilot program Monday using an alternative to the traditional boots used to immobilize vehicles registered to drivers with excessive unpaid parking tickets. 

Officers will test the use of the “Barnacle,” a large yellow clamp affixed to a vehicle’s windshield with powerful suction cups. The device is designed to block a driver’s ability to see out of the windshield. It is GPS monitored, so an alarm will sound if a driver attempts to move their vehicle with the Barnacle in place, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said. 

“As much as we don’t like doing it, it’s sometimes necessary to immobilize a vehicle,” City of Charleston Director of Traffic and Transportation Robbie Somerville said. “It’s our hope that this new technology will eventually make that process more efficient, and hopefully a little less painful, for everyone involved.” 

City leaders hope the device will reduce employee injuries and vehicle damage while offering residents “faster and more convenient ways to get their cars back on the road,” he said. 

Boots, which are heavy and can be difficult to install and remove, can sometimes cause injuries and damage to vehicle rims. The Barnacle, on the other hand, is lighter, easier to apply and not expected to cause damage, O’Toole said. 

“Payments to remove the Barnacle can be made via phone by credit card anytime, day or night,” he said. 

Once fees and outstanding parking tickets are paid, parking enforcement will enter a code on the device, which will release the suction and the device will be removed. 

One thing will not change, however: as with parking boots, there is a $500 fine for tampering with the Barnacle or attempting to remove it from the vehicle. 

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved. 


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