Last Updated on November 26, 2022 by Lawrence Berezin
Have you ever been nabbed by this parking sign?
This is a parking sign you’ll see everywhere in Parking Ticket Land. It is a no-standing violation that restricts parking to certain authorized vehicles. Meanwhile, the authorized vehicles will appear on a rider attached to the parking sign. For example, in the picture above, a white rider is attached to the red no-standing sign restricting parking to vehicles from the “AWM” agency.
Can you beat this parking ticket?
(a) General provisions.
(1) Compliance with rules. No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle, whether attended or unattended, other than in accordance with authorized signs, pavement markings, or other traffic control devices, unless necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with law or the direction of any law enforcement officer or other person authorized to enforce these rules
(3) Standing prohibited. When standing is prohibited by signs or rules, no person shall stop a vehicle, attended or unattended, except temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in expeditiously receiving or discharging passengers.
(i) Dedicated use signs. Standing is prohibited when a dedicated use is specified by a
sign, including but not limited to the following curb regulations: Commercial Vehicles Only,
Truck Loading Only, Taxi Stand, Taxi Relief Stand, Authorized Vehicles Only, NYP License
Plates Only, Doctor License Plates Only, For-Hire Vehicles Only, Ambulance Only,
Ambulette Only, Medical Facility Only, Bus Layover Only, NYS Road Test Only, Flea
Market Loading Only, Farmers Market Only, Waiting Line, Carshare Parking Only, Electric
Vehicle Charging Only, or Parking Permitted.
(c) Violation of posted no-standing rules prohibited. When official signs, markings, or traffic control devices have been posted prohibiting, restricting, or limiting the standing of vehicles, no person shall stand or park any vehicle in violation of the restrictions posted on such signs, markings, or traffic-control devices, except as otherwise provided herein:
(4) Authorized vehicles. Except as provided in paragraph (8) of this subdivision, no person shall stand or park a vehicle that is not specifically authorized by a dedicated use sign defined in section 4-01 and as provided in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of this section.
How to beat this parking ticket
In addition to the usual defenses (omitted, misdescribed, illegible required elements, and stop drop and skedaddle), here is an entry you should always look out for:
The warrior must enter the name of the specific agency (or vehicle) authorized to park in the restricted area. If she omits the authorized vehicle, you win upon presenting the proper proof correctly.
What does “AWM” mean?
Once upon a time, a long time ago (2010), the NY Times solved the mystery. Here’s an excerpt from a fascinating article:
Turns out AWM doesn’t stand for anything at all. The letters were a figment of the imagination of Samuel I. Schwartz, a former traffic commissioner, now a private traffic engineer known as Gridlock Sam.
In the 1980s, he was asked to reserve spaces for certain secretive federal agencies. They did not want to advertise their presence or have their unmarked vehicles identified.
The request was forwarded to the city after a particularly embarrassing intergovernmental episode: F.B.I. agents went inside a building to arrest someone. When they came out with the suspect, their car had been towed.
So the city installed dozens of signs, mostly downtown near the offices of the F.B.I. and the Secret Service, but also in Midtown for agents of the Postal Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Mr. Schwartz continues
“The people who you shouldn’t know who they are,” Mr. Schwartz said.
“I came up with those letters because I thought they meant nothing. And nobody would figure it out, and it was in the days before you could Google anything,” he said. (Doing an Internet search for the letters today doesn’t help much. The first result in a Google search is for the Association for Women in Mathematics.)
So out of thin air, Mr. Schwartz made up the AWM designation. Likewise, Robert Cassar, the president of the local CWA which represents traffic enforcement agents, said:
” I doubt most people would park in those spots simply because they are mostly adjacent to government buildings.
Further, “I bet if you look at the summonses we issue, you will find few people parking in those spots,”
Mr. Schwartz said he was unaware of any other fictional agency initials. He said a number of people have tried to figure out what the letters stand for. But, nobody has even come close.
“I randomly picked the letters and issued AWM permits,” he recalled.”
You don’t want to be nabbed by this iconic, undercover parking sign. Likewise, ensure the warrior enters the name of the agency (or vehicles) permitted to park in the restricted space.
But, never, ever pay a parking ticket, “No questions asked.”
What is your understanding of NYC parking signs? Are you ok with them? Or, are they a tiny bit confusing?
If you find them a tiny bit confusing, here’s a guide that will help! And, it is free. Click, enter, and download. Meanwhile, this is a lot easier than figuring out the meaning of a parking sign.
Jacquelyn Robbins says
I ahve not found any information on what I am looking for. I got a parking ticket for parking on a side street. The sign was at the end of the small street. Iy simple said NO PARKING. Not np parking from here to the end of thee street, no paling from 9-6 , n0 parking ok let side of street simply no parking. I parl about 500 feet from the sign others did too. We all got parking tickets for $40.00. I feel this is an unfair ticket since it did not state where the no parking was.
Lawrence Berezin says
You, me, and about a gazillion drivers would agree that it isn’t fair.
Here are some tips about NYC parking signs:
-A parking sign with no time displayed means “ALL DAYS and ALL TIMES”
-A parking sign regulates the curb space from the sign in the direction of the arrow(s) to the next parking sign or if none, the end of the block
-A parking sign without any arrows means that the parking rule regulates the curb space in BOTH directions
-There only has to be one parking sign and it can be located anywhere on the entire block.
I’ve written numerous blog posts about these confusing and scary rules.
Here are some links you may find helpful.