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Bill Would Bar Towing Cars for Unpaid Parking Tickets

By Jill Colvin | January 11, 2012 6:29pm
A new bill would stop the NYPD from towing vehicles for unpaid parking tickets.
A new bill would stop the NYPD from towing vehicles for unpaid parking tickets.
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Tim Boyle/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — New legislation would prohibit the city from towing cars for minor violations like unpaid parking tickets, potentially saving drivers hundreds of dollars in fines.

Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield has introduced a bill that would prevent the city from towing cars for amassing too many parking tickets or parking in “No Parking” zones, as long as they don’t pose a public safety hazard.

Cars that amass more than $350 worth of parking tickets can be towed without contest, costing drivers a $185 towing fee.

“Any driver who has been towed knows that a trip to the impound lot can be one of the most frustrating experiences in New York City,” Greenfield said.

Under the new legislation, instead of towing, vehicles would be locked with devices called “boots,” which prevent drivers from moving until they call in and pay their outstanding fines, plus a $50 processing fee. Once paid, drivers receive a code that allows them to unlock the boot and drive away, as long as they return the boot.

Cars left booted for 72 hours could be towed under the bill, as could cars parked in tow zones, bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants or driveways.

Greenfield said the bill comes after numerous complaints from resident who accused the city of unfairly targeting them to make cash.

Drivers whose cars are towed under the current system have to schlep to an impound lot and then pay $185 in towing and $20 in storage a day, in addition to tickets, Greenfield said.

“This bill would give drivers a chance to pay their debts to the city without wasting an entire day trying to retrieve their vehicle," he said. "It’s a simple and fair way for the city to enforce its parking laws without excessively punishing drivers."

The bill already has the support of a handful of other councilmembers, including Upper Manhattan City Councilman Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez.

A spokeswoman for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the bill has been referred t to committee, “where it will undergo full legislative review.”