Dear PoP – towing tickets

“Dear PoP,

Are the DC police required to attach a ticket to your car if they tow you? This would seem to be common sense practice.

I rented a Zipcar several months ago and parked in a rush spot (signs made it look legal). They ticketed me $100, and then towed me. I found the towed car, somehow returned it on time and successfully fought the $100 parkign ticket. Now Zipcar/DC is alleging that I owe $100 for the tow. This is news to me. Had I received a tow ticket, I would have argued that as well. Now several months have passed and the ticket is $200.

Similar thing happened to my boyfriend. He parked on Georgia Ave thinking that street cleaning was finished for the year (per your blog), but street cleaning continues on major arteries/evacuation routes. DC police towed his car but left no ticket. By the time he was aware of it, it had doubled.”

Hmm the street cleaning info came straight from DPW. Of course that was residential street cleaning…

Anyone ever deal with a towing/ticket situation like this before?

41 Comment

  • I have a simple solution for you.

    Take an extra 10 seconds out of your already busy day and read the sign.

    Unlike you, I do not have wads of hundos lining my pockets that I can just pass out.

  • I’ve got a question about parking tickets: we got two tickets totaling $130 for an expired registration, but had a print-out of the registration on the dashboard of the car.

    On the ticket, it says I have three options, 1) pay it; 2) deny it; or 3) admit it with an explanation.

    Does anyone know which of these is appropriate in this situation?

    • Deny it.

      There is probably a requirement to have the sticker permanently affixed to the windshield, but in all likelyhood the adjudication clerk will look up your registration and the date of the ticket and determine that your reg was valid.

      • I’ve gotten this ticket before…In fact there *is* a requirement to have the registration attached to your windshield. The violation should say something like “failure to properly display registration”

        I thought I could fight it initially (since it was clearly on the dashboard, but found out later that the “stuck to inside of windshield” part is implied in that particular law.

    • My boyfriend got a ticket like this, but it was for expired inspection and registration. He paid the expired inspection upfront, but fought the registration ticket (he had it displayed on the front window, but not attached) and the adjudication clerk dismissed the ticket entirely. He also didn’t receive the initial ticket so by the time he got notification by mail, he didn’t have many options and it was extra expensive. In the end, it worked out for him.

  • deny it? It was registered, end of story.

  • I did read the sign silly. You try to interpret this sign

    • There’s a no-rush-hour parking sign missing. If it’s not above the 2-hour sign then you have a pretty good argument to fight the ticket.

      However, the sign in the picture does imply that rush hour parking isn’t allowed. You’ll notice that the 2-hour limitation stops at 4 and then the no-time-limit parking begins at 6:30. If you’ve lived in DC for any length of time you should know that 4-6:30 is rush hour. Or at least if you’ve ever owned a car in DC.

      • the sign says you can park for 2 hours up until 4:30, then after 6:30 you can park as long as you want. not ambiguous in the least. yes it would be helpful if there was also a sign explaining the gap between 4:30 and 6:30 but anyone with experience parking in DC should be able to interpret this sign. So, read the signs, and quit your whining.

        • Way to be condescending, however, in the absence of a no parking sign, other parking restrictions and with no yellow curb, parking along the street is perfectly legal. Therefore, there was no reason to think that for those 2 hours it was illegal to park. End of story.

          • 7th street in that part of chinatown has rush hour parking restrictions multiple times per block. look on street view.

  • “(signs made it look legal)”

    Take an extra 10 seconds out of your already busy day and read the post.

  • If you never received the tickets you should be able to fight them and at least get them knocked down to their original amount.

  • When my car got towed around the corner the tow truck driver put an additional ticket on it. It didn’t look like a normal parking ticket. It was handwritten.

    Once upon a time they didn’t charge you for the tow – you just had to pay the ticket.

  • The parking ticket situation in DC is out of control. Even when information is written/typed on the ticket incorrectly (this used to be an automatic dismissal). It’s hard not to believe there’s not a scam going on… it’s not like it would be the first time there was corruption in DC. Often times a citizen has no recourse but to pay the fine even if it was unjustly issued. It’s a mess.

    • I don’t think it’s a scam, it’s just that no politician wants to admit it’s all about money and not safety, rationing space/ allocation, foot and car traffic flow, etc.

      • It’s absolutely about rationing space. I have noticed a major difference in availability of parking downtown since they went to Saturday meters and higher pricing.

        90% of people who get “scam” tickets turn out to be in the wrong, like the original poster here. Sometimes they are in the wrong in an obvious way, and sometimes its very technical, but they usually are. If you understand the system you learn that the parking people are very detailed and rigorous and you need to think defensively in situations like parking under the original poster’s sign.

  • I agree with Julie. There should be a citizen’s uprising against the ticket scam regime. I liked Fenty, but I have a feeling he put the word out that they need to just issue tickets like crazy, justified or not, so they can hit that extra $20M in fines he promised.

  • I feel for you. I wish I had more advice to give!

    I have had horrible experiences with DC tickets/towing. A few months ago, my car was parked for a few weeks in the correct zone, in an area where street cleaning does not exist. I walk to work, so I rarely drive and was out of town for work, etc. When I went back to my car, it was no longer there and found out it was towed a week prior with NO notification from DC. The car was towed because they randomly scanned it and found an unpaid parking ticket (my fault). Not only did I have to get a zip car over my lunch break to retrieve the car at the NY Ave impound, I had to spend another lunch break going to the SW impound because the car was moved, again, with no notification. As a result, I spent hundreds of dollars on the ticket, booting, towing, zip car, time spent in the impound, towing from the NE to SW impound, and a fee to get the car out of impound.

    The worst part of all of this was the SW impound lot, where they have huge photographs of cars getting towed and aerial views of the lot, as if they’re trophies for robbing people of every last cent.

  • you weren’t the person who left his/her zipcar in the left parking lane on the 1600 block of I st NW a couple weeks back during morning rush hour, were you? that bad boy got towed and cursed.

  • I live on a rush hour/street cleaning street. About once a year for some reason: out of town longer than I planned or just forgot, I get a $100 ticket and a tow. NOW they apparently charge $100 for the violation and $100 for the tow: total $200!!! This is RIDICULOUS!!!! $100 is more than enough to incetivize people against this and hurts residents who once in a while are going to make a mistake.

  • Regarding street cleaning tickets – if you read the original POP post or the DPW announcement, they both explain that street cleaning on main roads is not suspended during the winter.

    “Overnight sweeping scheduled for the District’s major roadways, which include Pennsylvania, Georgia, Constitution, and Independence avenues, will take place as usual all winter, as the weather permits. Motorists are urged not to park in these areas during the posted overnight sweeping hours.”

  • 1. – all dc residents should get a once a year “get out of jail free card” for street-sweeping violations.

    2- DC needs to f**ing POST THE DATES for street sweeping on the signs. Dec. 1 – Feb. 30. Permanent dates – on the signs – not difficult!!!

    The point of traffic control/tickets is not to raise revenue, but to help NOT KILL people.

    Every year in winter on Wednesdays, when no one knows/cares that street sweeping is suspended (or knows they can get away with parking anyway) Irving St. – a major ambulance & fire route – is blocked all day with only one lane instead of two.

    • Victoria, with respect, parking tickets are not moving violations. They have little to do with safety and everything to do with bringing demand for a scarce public good (street parking) into line with supply. This is entirely an economic issue.

      Except in the case of your street cleaners, whose time is valuable and who can’t do their job properly when someone is parking in the middle of it. Personally, I’m for clean streets, full city coffers and an adequate supply of parking. These are problems that were made for each other.

      • If an ambulance or fire truck can’t get through I think that has plenty to do with safety. Irving Street NW is a primary E-W route for emergency vehicles. It is designed to be 2 lanes at all times going east.

        This isn’t an arbitrary rant – this is me watching out my window at ambulances & fire trucks stuck for 3 minutes on Wednesdays in winter because cars are parked on both sides of the street and traffic has no place to pull over. 3 min. is a lot of time when your house is on fire or your dad is having a heart attack.

        Believe me – I’m plenty pissed off because they took away all the usual 2 hour visitor parking because of DCUSA so my plumber/piano tuner/friend stopping by for a cup of tea can never visit without risk of a ticket – but that is just shitty government and a pain in the ass – not life or death.

        People park illegally all day every day on Irving St. to stop in at CVA or Starbucks – that is just annoyance. If our govt. wanted to generate revenue they could write 50 tickets an hour on this block.

        But those cars don’t constrict the whole street. And don’t tell me to contact Jim Graham – I have an email chain years long with him about this.

        And all they have to do is post the dates on the existing street cleaning signs!

  • The information I bring you comes straight from the two hours I spent at the courthouse today contesting a parking ticket. My ticket ended up being thrown out by the hearing officer as a technicality which was a pleasant surprise, but I wish it could have happened sooner.

    Here’s what you can expect. I arrived at 1:30pm, stood in line for about 20-30 minutes before I reached the information desk. I explained I wanted to contest the ticket. Of the three options (Admit, Admit with Explanation, or Deny), if you choose to Deny the ticket, you must choose from a preset list of reasons. I don’t have the whole list but look it up before you plan to attempt a deny. Of the 8 people in the room, only 3 were dismissed outright.

    *** If you do not own your car, you will need to get a “Power of Attorney” form so you can represent the owner at the hearing. Several students from CUA (I think) showed up and were turned away because their parents owned the car. I don’t know if that form is available online. ***

    After I got to information, I was told to wait in the seating area until my number was called (another 10-15 minutes). Once called, I was directed to a hearing room with about 8-10 other cases. Each case takes about 10 minutes to process, so they did not get to my case until about 3:20pm.

    The case of a PM Rush Hour tow plus ticket came up. Yes, there’s a $100 towing fee + $100 fine. In the case I heard, the car was towed to an expired meter, where another $25 ticket was added. The woman tried to explain that she had been in court earlier that week was kept in court for 6 hours and that’s why she could not move her car. This caused several others in court to start getting nervous, and one guy actually left to go move his car.

    In my case, the ticket was dismissed because the offense was that I “disobeyed official sign” but the officer apparently failed to note which sign I had violated, so the ticket was thrown out. I went to a D.C. Roller Girls event and the signs said no parking (expect permitted residents) during “Stadium Events” which I interpreted to mean events at RFK–I suspect this sign for which the officer issued the ticket. I never got a clear answer from the officer about whether events at the Armory are considered “stadium events”, so those tickets might be worth contesting. I think every car on the block without a residential zone permit got a ticket that night.

    P.S. The most ridiculous case was a woman who drove to a friend’s apartment complex. She parked in the “Future Resident Parking” spot and was fined $250. She noted that since the leasing office was already closed, she thought it was okay to park there. Here’s a close to verbatim quote: “How was I suppose to know I wasn’t suppose to park there?” She did get the ticket reduce (not sure how much), so it might help to fight a really outrageous tickets.

    • The intent of the signs near RFK is to keep the residents’ parking from being taken by people attending events at the stadium complex, right? Think about this for a minute.

  • Exquisitely Kafkaesque to consider having to prove one is a “future resident” of anywhere!

  • The DC parking enforcement officers operate with a shoot first, ask questions later mentality. Like in moving violations, the ticketing officer should have to be present during the hearing, and I’ll bet they’d be a little more careful.

    • me

      That’s ridiculous. Even if a cop is stationed to specifically ticket speeders one day, figure that he doesn’t have all THAT many court appearances to show up for. However, ticketers give out so many tickets per day, and it’s not like they have scheduled court dates. So, they would have hundreds of court appearances, some with no notice, each week to go to, under your suggestion. You did not think that through.

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