How common is it to have your car towed for street sweeping?

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Topic: How common is it to have your car towed for street sweeping?

Auto June 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm

How common is it to have your car towed for street sweeping?

How common is it to have your car towed for street sweeping? I’ve lived off 13th in what’s described as “16th street heights” for a few years…and I’ve had a handful of $30 street sweeping tickets during that time, so I’m familiar with that. Today, my car was ticketed for failing to move it for street sweeping $30 then towed around the corner for an extra fine of $100. My S/O offered to move it for me today b/c I was rushing to catch my bus…then forgot…but that’s beside the point. According to DC’s website they can tow for *any* parking violation they wish, but I’ve never known them to tow for street sweeping (at least not in my neighborhood). I don’t have any outstanding tickets or anything, so this just seemed out of the ordinary and a little harsh. I don’t even have the option of waiting to pay it a couple of paydays from now since my car registration is coming up for renewal in a few weeks and violations have to be paid off before I can do that. I know I can’t fight it…but if this is common practice, yikes. 

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Don’t all the street sweeping signs say “Tow-Away Zone”?  (See the image at .)

If you’re on a major road – like Irving St. it is very common – and very necessary.  Less-trafficked roads are usually lower-priority.

Oh, Text…I’m not contesting whether or not they had the right to do it, or the clarity of the sign itself, but thanks just the same.  Even if it didn’t say “tow away zone” on the sign (which it clearly does), the car could still be towed because DC can tow for any and all parking violations.  Declaring that the street is a “tow away zone” has nothing to do with the frequency in which it *actually* occurs. Victoria has confirmed that yes, it does happen & often, on major roads…which leads me to believe this isn’t all that weird.  Having never had this happen to myself or neighborhood friends, I wasn’t sure towing for street sweeping wasn’t just an idle threat.   It’s not a major street, has no rush-hour restrictions, it’s not a bus route, the street is wide…but this has me thinking I should reevaluate the importance of my street.  My first reaction when I discovered the car was missing wasn’t “OMG it’s been stolen” but “F@C#-it’s been towed”… I’m not as much surprised that parking enforcement exercised their right to do it as I am annoyed and/or butthurt that they had lead me astray with a false sense of security through multiple $30 tickets of shame through the years…and whose fault is that? Mine, of course.  I’ve lived in DC for about 10 years total (current location about 3 years), so I’m pretty familiar with jacked-up ticketing, courtesy towing, and all the other joys of DC parking & driving.
Let me illustrate my query another way: Say my friend has a pet named Bitey…the name is even written out on his collar in pyramid studs. Upon my first introduction to Bitey, my friend warns me that Bitey occasionally bites.  10 years goes by…and though Bitey has crapped in my shoes or humped my leg on many occasions, he has never bitten or nipped at me once in all that time. Then, one day (on a Tuesday between the hours of 9-11:30am and sometime after the second week in March but before the last week in October) I visit Bitey and he tries to tear off my face.  WTF Bitey? WTF?  Since there’s no bacon in my pocket that day and I’m not wearing delicious hamburger cologne…I ask my friend “has Bitey been doing this more often lately?”. Depending on my friend’s response, I may decide that it was a flukey once-in-a-decade attempted mauling…or I may decide that I’ll take care to avoid Bitey at all costs, even if it means missing my  friend’s birthday party.  
You’ve lived next to Bitey for the past few years and have observed his behavior over several years.  What would you tell me about him (aside from reminding me of the obvious facts that his name is Bitey and he’s a domesticated Mongoose?)

I moved to DC in 2004 as a car owner and rented a studio near 15th and Rhode Island NW.  During my first year in DC, my car was towed for street sweeping at least two, maybe three times.  It’s one of the things that prompted me to sell my car, which I barely used.  So DC’s been towing cars for street sweeping, at least in some neighborhoods, for many years.


They tend to do it on busier roads or roads that have been having enforcement difficulties.  If you ever see it happen, you’ll notice it.  5 or more tow trucks will be working the route ahead of the street sweeper.
They used to call it a “courtesy tow”, and they didn’t charge anything.  That disappeared during one of the budget pressures fairly recently.

Hamster, you are absolutely correct in your Bitey anology.  Bitey has been more vicious in recent months (especially in our neighborhood) and you should avoid unless you enjoy having to go see the vet.  I too had been desensitized by Bitey’s seemingly lackadaisical committment to its threats over the past 11 years until recently it bit me right in the buttocks (where I keep my wallet), only 4 minutes before Bitey was supposed to go to the pound.
I tried to have the $100 fine reduced or vacated, but was told exactly what you have found on their website.  Additionally the hearing examiner said that due to offenders seemingly acting like $30 was just an annoying mosquito bite – easily paid and forgotten – rather than a rabid dog bite – leaving a good long scar as a reminder – that they would be enforcing the convienence tow and $100 ticket more often.
Sorry that you were also a victim, but glad that we can help others from becoming ones as well.

I think the increase in towing for violations on secondary streets is most likely an indication of sucess in getting the message across to people by agressive towing on primary streets.  The tow trucks that used to haul off 8-12 cars every morning from Irving St. now only take 2-3 and so have more time for secondary streets.
Yes, it does still suck when you forget and get towed – but think of it this way.  I used to watch ambulances and firetrucks stuck on Irving (the main emergency vechichle route) for 2-5 minutes because of illegal parking.  That is a hell of a long time when your partner is having a heart attack or your house is on fire.  A couple of years ago there was an enormous fire a couple of blocks from here, and I actually timed the firetrucks for 1:54 to go one block.


We got towed from our one-way, seldom-used side  street last August, in the week after the hurricane. I remember it well for a few reasons:
1. We were out of town the weekend of the hurricane, but had parked “smartly,” anticipating the street cleaning and parking on the Tuesday side, since we’d be back Monday.
2. We didn’t make it back Monday after all. The hurricane damage cancelled all Amtrak service, and thus our return trip.
3. Come Tuesday, we had both of our cars ticketed for parking during posted street cleaning hours ($30 each), but had only one of them towed ($100). (Yes, we were grateful for small favors, but puzzled over the randomness of towing one and not the other.)
4. My appeal regariding the tickets was denied (of course!), though I could provide a press release from Amtrak documenting the cancelled service and copies of our tickets. Of course, the hurricane was also national news, so it was no secret.  No reason for the denial was offered, just a re-stating of the law.
DC sucks.

Thank you all. Perry- that is horrible. Pure money grubbing beyond reason and common sense. D.C., why you gotta be so mean? We’re trying to love you, but you’re such a dick sometimes. 
My current situation is at least my fault (for not doing it myself). Now that my registration is coming up for renewal…I’m seriously considering getting rid of my car. I have a weekly reminder on my phone to move it for sweeping, but there will always be a time or two it gets missed and a $130 ticket enranges me so very much, that I’m not sure it’s worth it. The car does see more use in the winter, but there are weeks in the summer when the only time I start it is to move it for street sweeping. I bought and paid off the car before we bought the house, and I used it often. Now, I use public transport for work and I have a scooter (which gets chained up in my back yard). And a POS non-working motorcycle. Perhaps eliminating the car from my life will motivate me to fix that. <– anyone who has ever owned a car and a broken motorcycle has uttered this phrase at least once. It never works that way.
As JZDC mentioned above, “the hearing examiner said that due to offenders seemingly acting like $30 was just an annoying mosquito bite – easily paid and forgotten – rather than a rabid dog bite – leaving a good long scar as a reminder – that they would be enforcing the convienence tow and $100 ticket more often.” This makes sense to me. Perhaps because JZ speaks my language.  
I went online to DMV this morning to crunch some numbers (and to make sure I didn’t have any surprise tickets) and what do you know? I DO! They ticketed me for parking on wrong side during street sweeping. They ticketed me for the $100 tow. And, apparently, they also ticketed me for parking on the wrong side of the street again after they towed me. No. Dukes are up.   

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