Last Updated on May 22, 2020 by Lawrence Berezin
Car towed? My guess is just about every NYC driver has suffered the out-of-body experience of returning to their parking space and not finding their car. I’m afraid that staring at the empty parking space will not bring their missing car back.
“Oh, it was stolen,” they say. “Maybe I parked in a different spot,” they hope. “Nope,” they discover. Their 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. No notice required.”
This injustice dates back to 1956, and it results from a law passed by the NY State Legislature. There does not have to be a sign saying, tow-away zone. Your vehicle may be towed and for any reason.
You are the victim of a “Violation Tow” if you receive a parking ticket and have no unpaid parking tickets in judgment. The NYPD towed your vehicle and took it to one of the police 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.
If you receive an NYC parking ticket and owe more than $101 in parking tickets in judgment, your car was 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 tow by the sheriff. The tow can occur at any time or any place your vehicle is found 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) ask 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
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 Marshall’s office for the borough in which your car was towed
- Follow Marshall’s instructions about how to redeem your vehicle
You must be the registered owner to redeem your 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
- An accepted method of payment
if you use your vehicle regularly in NYC, it is important to know how to redeem your car as painlessly and efficiently as possible. You can find your towed vehicle by clicking on this link, and then clicking on the “locate towed vehicle” bar in the right column.
Please 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.)]