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“Do I have a realistic shot at fighting either the parking citation and/or tow fee?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

A couple weeks ago, I parked my car in an ambiguously marked tow away rush hour lane. Sure enough, when I got back the car was gone and towed off by the city.

Yes, I made a mistake parking it there, but the District definitely made a pretty bad mistake towing my AWD car at least half a mile by its front wheels without a rear dolly or flatbedding my car – totally against standard practice for towing an AWD vehicle. Long story short, $4k+ in damages to the differential and driveshaft; fortunately, my insurer is stepping in and hopefully will pursue a claim against DC’s towing service that will cover the insurer’s costs and my deductible.

I’m not writing so much about the damages, which I am upset about – fortunately they’re a sliver short of totaling the car.

The real reason I’m writing is that I think I may have a technicality that gets me around the $200 in parking fines and/or towing fees and want your advice.

The towing crane form from the DPW Towing and Impoundment Branch shows the tow truck arrived on scene at 9:00 AM, towed the vehicle at 9:05, and got it to its destination over half a mile away at 9:10. (Fortunately, it also documents explicitly that it was towed w/o a dolly on the rear wheels, which should solidify my insurer’s claim; also, for the readers, my car clearly says ‘ALL WHEEL DRIVE’ on its tailgate.) The issue is that the notice of infraction slip shows the time of the $100 parking violation as 9:10 AM and issues the additional $100 tow fee at 9:12 AM. (Note the tow form is filled by hand while the notice of infraction is an electronically printed ticket.)

My thought here is that if procedure is being followed, the citation should happen first and then the tow can occur. As such, the tow form should show a tow time that is after the time of the citation. Clearly, this is not the case as the time of citation is 9:10 after the time of the tow at 9:05.

Do any of you have advice on this? Do I have a realistic shot at fighting either the parking citation and/or tow fee?”

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