Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Have Car, Will Get Towed

Around 11 AM yesterday, it dawned on my that my car--the motorized thing that we drive out to Trader Joe's once every couple of weeks--was on the Tuesday street sweeping side of R St. D'oh. I kicked myself for not remembering to move the car that morning, then resigned myself to paying the $30 fine and moving on with life.

That was, until I got home and found that my car wasn't there. We strolled up and down the block several times, just making sure we weren't going blind. Nope, no car. So I called the number posted on the street sweeping signs, and got directed to another number that one could call to get information on whether or not your vehicle had been towed. Mind you, the idea that my car might have been stolen--quite ludicrous considering the car, but you never know--and I was actually *hoping* that DC had taken it. An operator picked up, and my call wen something like this:

Me: I want to see if you have my car.
Operator: What's your license number?
Me: XX-XXXX
Operator: It's on the 2300 block of Sherman.
Me: Beg pardon?
Operator: It's on the 2300 block of Sherman.
Me: How did it get there?
(At this moment, the thought that had entered my mind was that my car had, in fact, been stolen, and that the thieves were joy riding kids who had crashed it somewhere up on Sherman Ave.)
Operator: It was towed there.

So there you go. I should point out that this is far from the first time one of the 14thandYous had forgotten to move a car on street sweeping day, but this is the FIRST time the car had not been there when we returned.

So, has anyone else experienced this? Is the towing of cars to random DC streets a new SOP for the city government, or had we just been lucky this hadn't happened before?

And for those of you wondering: no, I didn't get charged for having my vehicle towed away.

26 comments:

voteprime said...

This happened to a friend in NYC. However, no one she could get in touch with had a record of where the car had been towed to. The police assured her it was towed to a legal spot and recommended she walk around her neighborhood until she finds it (which she eventually did). Quality.

Anonymous said...

I think that's AWESOME! They could have towed it to some lot that is only open from 10a to 2p on certain days of the week (screw you Baltimore) and charged you up the wazoo, but this is a kinder, gentler DC, and they just moved it out of the way (grant it, a little distance away). Did you still get charged the $30 ticket, though? No offense, but I hope so, just because we shouldn't encourage people not to move their cars, and someone needs to pay the city to move the cars (and the offenders should be charged, not the poopulation in general).

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this has happed to me downtown because I failed to move my car during rush hour. They towed it from 13th and G to 3rd and L. Funny thing is - I got two tickets, one for violating the rush hour lane, and a second to get it towed. I am in the process of appealing the ticket for towing, and the process is absolutely ridiculous. I will end up paying more for the cost of the appeal than for what the ticket is worth. DC DMV is completely unfair.

Anonymous said...

It happened to me about 5 years ago when I lived in Dupont. The city put up emergency "move-your-car-now" signs on a street where I was parked and I didn't know about them until I found my car missing. I had the same conversation as you, only my car was towed to a street with metered parking. I had a total of three tickets, all of which I contested. I didn't have to pay anything.

Ryan said...

ooooh, I'm going to have to disagree with anonymous on the unfairness factor. As I see it, the original ticket is for breaking the law and the second is for making someone else take care of it for you. Seems fair to me.

BUT, this is actually a quite common practice. My housemate never remembers to move her car for street sweeping and it regularly gets towed to a different location. I'm not sure what factors come in to play on the ticket vs. tow decision. Also, there's website you can go to (somewhere on DMV?) to look up where your car has been placed.

I think it's a great idea all around. Ticketing alone doesn't clear the street for traffic, so it makes sense they'll want to tow you and get the car out of the way. But this strategy allows the city to avoid having to keep a tow-lot and makes it much easier for citizens to reclaim their cars.

Russ said...

No tow yet but it's hard not feeling like it's only a matter of time.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Yes, I got the $30 ticket for a parking violation, and yes I think that's fair. I'm upset at myself for not moving the car, and I find the street sweeping regulations to be annoyingly cumbersome...but I have no qualms about rightfully receiving a ticket.

Honestly, I was surprised that i didn't get a ticket for having the car towed, although that isn't a posted violation so I don't know that they necessarily could ticket me for that. Then again, Mrs. 14thandyou once got ticketed for parking--and paying--at a metered space that happened to be in front of a building, so rationality doesn't always enter the equation here.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Voteprime: That's ridiculous. That sounds much more DC-like than it does NYC.

I was just glad they didn't tow my car someplace like Deanwood.

Anonymous said...

I see cars towed from Rhode Island during evening rush hour and relocated to 14th St just north of thomas circle. I always thought it was a peculiar decision, but I guess it allows for rapid redeployment of illegally parked cars.

Mr. Q said...

The same thing happened to me in April but with a twist...

They had just started street sweeping the week before so I wasn't used to my "which side of the street did I park on?" thinking...

Anyway, came out to get in my car...no car to be found. Called the number thinking it had been towed...they tell me "No - we don't have any record of towing your car"

Now I start to panic thinking car is stolen, call my partner at work - he calls the same number and once again they tell him "no record of the car being towed - you should probably call the police to report it stolen"

So in disbelief I call the police to report the car stolen...they tell me an officer will be in touch w/ me in an hour or so...

I go out and run into a friend who suggest I widen my search for the car..

I start to walk and unbelievably about 4 blocks away down 6th Street between N & O, there is my car!

I call the police to tell them it was not stolen..

And then I call the street cleaning number to tell them they were wrong...they ask me my license plate again, and this time, the person says "your car is on 6th Street betw N & O"...

I ask why didn't the first two people know that...she says "I don't know - they should have - it's right here in our system"

Moral of the story - call back at least three times if your car is missing and you think it may have been towed!!

Insert Username Here said...

A similar thing happened to me in the same area. It wasn't street sweeping though, DDOT had decided to repave a section of Sherman Ave without notifying anyone. When I went to get my car in the morning, the workers on the street kindly let me know my car was probably towed "a few blocks up that way."

Brian said...

That's happened to a friend of mine a couple of years back. We were out late drinking, he forgot to move his car for rush hour restrictions, and it had been towed from M & 13th to 11th and N. It makes a lot of sense, really. They can clear the area out a lot faster without having to make several round trips, and they still get the ticket revenue.

Now, why M Street East of Thomas Circle has rush hour restrictions is up for debate, but whatever.

Anonymous said...

You are really lucky that you didn't have to pay. I forgot to move my car for during rush hour. It was towed a few blocks and when I found it, there was a nice $100 ticket waiting for me.

Anonymous said...

I left mine in a rush lane on 16th in 2002 and found that they had towed it just 'round the corner to Riggs. But I had to pay a $150 tow fee, so you were lucky. - former Gladstone resident

former 14th and s street nw resident said...

Actually, this happens every day in that part of DC from around 14th and U, down 16th Street to Thomas Circle. Cars get towed out of street sweeping or designated commute lanes to spaces in and around the neighborhoods they're towed from. The city has a fleet of rapid tow trucks that move the cars. (They don't have time to haul them all off to a towing yard. They just need to get them off the street to free up the area for inbound/outbound commute hours and for street cleaning.)

Oh, and just FYI: It isn't DMV that tickets. It's the Office of Parking and Traffic Enforcement and/or the MPD. DMV only issues licenses and registrations and inspects vehicles. They don't ticket. (One of your commentors cursed them. They're worth cursing, believe me. But not for that!)

Anonymous said...

This happened to me, but it happened after street sweeping was suspended due to Winter. I was angry at first but then just decided to pay the $30 ticket because I did not want to deal with DC Government.

LivitLuvit said...

What really gets me is that they'll ticket you for parking there, but they almost never actually clean the street! At least where I was, 14th and Euclid area. Ridic. But yeah, I'll take the $30 ticket anyway over a $200 tow...

loganmo said...

It happened to me multiple times in Columbus, OH.

Street cleaning here is such a racket. I am not sure how whipping street debris into the air and spraying the street with a light coating of what looks like used toilet waters makes the street cleaner...

Mr. 14th & You said...

Loganmo- Are you from Columbus?

ListenToLeon.net said...

This happened to me a few years ago on 16th Street in Columbia Heights. I still got a ticket, but I was really glad that I didn't get the ticket on top of having to pay some tow-truck lot just to get my car back.

loganmo said...

Nope, just used to live there for couple of years.

Ironically, Mr. Loganmo's boyfriend did not move the car on street cleaning day yesterday as promissed and had my car courtesy towed a block away. I am glad they did not that rather than haul it down to the impound lot in no-man's land. What I don't get is how other cars were not moved (including ones right behind and in front of mine)....

Anonymous said...

This is called a "courtesy" tow. It is actually fairly common (or was a few years ago) on those streets where your car has to be moved before morning rush hour. The courtesy is that it only comes with a $100 fine, instead of a $200 fine and having to make your way to the tow barn to pick up your car.

loganmo said...

All I had was the $30 ticket for street cleaning violation-there was no $100 fee. I still dont understand why moved my car, but obviously did not clean the street?

Jaylin said...

My friend's car was in a legal spot in front of Acadiana on K St. at 9th St. NW. We come back after the weekend, and his car is GONE and 15 parking spaces are now FENCED IN a construction zone. I asked the construction guy what happened, he says:

"oh, you are looking for the blue SUV, right? We had to tow it."

After a 6 hour process of picking up the towed car in SE and going before an "adminstrative" judge to protest a construction company fencing in a car...my friend was left with a $30 ticket for parking near a fire hydrant (he didn't parallel park, he parked diagonally in a space WITH painted lines!) and a $150 fee for towing his car.

Developers rule the city and it's a shame.

Mr. 14th & You said...

"Nope, just used to live there for couple of years."

Cool. Born and raised there, and can't decide if I love orhate the place. I really go back and forth.

Devon said...

On a slightly different note, but equally irritating, today is the second time I've received a "second notice" of a parking violation for parking in zone 2, despite having a valid zone 2 permit in my windshield. the first notice, I imagine, is the ticket itself, but both times no ticket was anywhere near my car. My appeal of the first ticket, which said in the most polite way "this ticket is for zone 2. I have a valid zone 2 permit", was denied. I sent it in at thanksgiving and just got word back that it was denied. I'm sending in the appeal for the second one tomorrow. I think they just hand these out every 6 months or so and hope people are too busy to contest them.