What happens when your car is towed in NYC?

beat nyc parking ticket, parking law

You ought to know the what happens when your car is towed in NYC

My guess is every member of the NYC driving public has suffered the out-of-body experience of returning to your parking space and not finding your car. Staring at the empty space did not bring your car back. “Oh it must of have been stolen,” you say. “Maybe I parked in a difference spot,” you hope.

Nope. Your car was towed in NYC.

The routine, basic, run-of-the-mill violation tow

I’m going to say this over and over and over again….All of NYC is a tow away zone. There does not have to be a sign saying, “tow away zone.” Your vehicle may be towed any time a NYC parking ticket is issued to your vehicle.

If you receive a parking ticket and have no unpaid parking tickets in judgment, you are the victim of a “violation tow.” Your vehicle was towed by the New York City Police Department and taken to one of the NYPD impound lots in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Here is the pertinent information for each impound yard  . Go directly to the impound lot to redeem your vehicle.

The awe and shock violation tow

If you receive a NYC parking ticket, and owe more than $101 in parking tickets that have gone into judgment, you were towed by the NYPD.  However, the big but is that you must first visit a Department of Finance Business Center, and:

  • Pay your parking ticket judgments
  • Obtain a Vehicle Release Form
  • Go to the impound lot and pay the NYPD towing fees to get your vehicle back

I fought the law and the law won: A judgment tow by the sheriff

If you have at least $350 in unpaid NYC parking tickets, a vehicle registered in your name is subject to a tow by the sheriff. The tow may occur any time, or any place your vehicle is located in NYC. Believe me, the sheriff or his deputy is looking for your car!

Here is what happens after your vehicle is towed by the Sheriff:

  • The Sheriff will begin the process of preparing your vehicle for auction after 72 hours.
  • If you do not pick up your vehicle within seventy two (72) hours of taking it from you, the Sheriff will begin the process of notifying you your vehicle is being prepared for auction unless you do the following: (1) pay for and pick up the vehicle, (2) request a “Sale Hold” by going to any Finance Business Center.
  • The vehicle is generally auctioned anytime after 10 days.

How do I stop the auction process?

  • Go to a Department of Finance office as soon as possible and pay your tickets
  • Obtain a Vehicle Release Form after you pay your parking tickets
  • Take your Vehicle Release Form to the impound lot
  • Pay substantial fees to the Sheriff
    • Tow fee
    • Execution fee
    • Storage charges at $10 per day for the first 2 days; increases to $15 per day on the 3rd day
    • Taxes

Judgment Tow by the City Marshall

Man oh live, how many people are looking for my car. A LOT!

The same story that applies to a judgment tow by the sheriff, applies to a City Marshall tow, except you:

  • Should immediately contact the Marshall’s office for the borough your car was towed
  • Follow the Marshall’s instructions about how to redeem your vehicle

You must be the registered owner to redeem you vehicle from the City Marshall

What do I need when I go to the impound lot?

  • A valid driver’s license (or bring someone along with a valid driver’s license)
  • The original vehicle registration or the vehicle title
  • Valid insurance card registered to the vehicle
  • Vehicle Release Form
  • Accepted method of payment


if you operate your vehicle regularly in NYC, it is important to know how to redeem your car as painlessly and efficiently as possible. You can locate your towed vehicle by clicking on this link; and then clicking on the “locate towed vehicle” bar in the right column.

nyc parking ticket, beat parking ticket, fight new york parking ticketPlease share your experiences when you redeemed your vehicle that may help other members of the driving public avoid some land minds.

[Editor's note: Sources for this article were NYC DOF; and "The New York City Parking Survival Guide," by Louis Camporeale, (Parking Pal Company Inc.)]

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A wonderful reference guide
Written by 3 Experts

This is an extraordinary reference guide written by Matt Weiss, Esquire, Margot Tohn, and Larry B (that's me), who are well-known experts in traffic tickets, off-street parking challenges, and parking tickets. You'll love the tips and tricks contained in this guide, and it's yours for the clicking.

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