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My Car is Gone: NYC Edition

Posted 04-07-2015 at 06:36 PM by Employable


Owning a car in NYC doesn’t mean just paying your registration, buying insurance and getting inspections. Some New Yorkers have told me they actually add the price of tickets and even towing into their budgets. How difficult is it to get your car back? Start with Paragraph 1 to find out.


Paragraph 1. If you don’t have any unpaid tickets or your car was not illegally parked, go to Paragraph 2. If you have unpaid tickets or your car was illegally parked, go to Paragraph 3.


Paragraph 2. Your car may have been relocated (an annoyance) or stolen (very bad). Call 311 or find your nearest police precinct this way or this way to get the annoying or bad news. You can also find your car yourself by going to this page and clicking “Locate Towed Vehicle.” Then go to Paragraph 10 for cool links.


Paragraph 3. Your car was probably towed. Go here or call 311 to figure out who towed your car. Then go to Paragraph 4.


Paragraph 4. Go here and here to start the process of getting your car back. If your car was illegally parked ONLY, the NYPD probably towed your car. Go to Paragraph 5. If your car was illegally parked AND you have outstanding parking tickets, you have additional problems. Go to Paragraph 6.


Paragraph 5. Once you confirm the NYPD has your car, get it back from them by going to the correct tow pound when they’re open. Now go to Paragraph 10.


Paragraph 6. If you’re reading this, you’re in a world of hurt. There are three law enforcement entities that may have towed your car. If it was the NYPD, go to Paragraph 7. If it was the Sheriff, go to paragraph 8. If it was a City Marshal, go to paragraph 9.


Paragraph 7. The NYPD eventually gives its towed vehicles to the Sheriff for auction, so don’t delay. Pay your fine by going to the correct office of the Department of Finance when they’re open. Ask for a Vehicle Release Form and make sure to ask whether you need anything else. Take your paperwork to the correct tow pound when they’re open. Now go to Paragraph 10.


Paragraph 8. The Sheriff will start preparing your car for auction after 72 hours. For the mathematically challenged, that’s three days. Avoid this potential disaster by going to the correct office of the Department of Finance when they’re open. Hurry. Pay your hefty fine, ask for a Vehicle Release Form and make sure to ask whether you need anything else. Don’t leave until you know exactly where your car is. The payment types accepted and the payment chart are here, under “Judgment Tow by Sheriff.” Now go to Paragraph 10.


Paragraph 9. City Marshals are not city employees. They’re appointed by the Mayor to enforce orders, which includes towing cars of drivers who don’t pay their tickets. If your car was towed in Staten Island, it’s actually the Sheriff who probably has your car, so go back to Paragraph 8. If it’s any of the other four boroughs, call a Marshal from that borough. They should tell you the total amount you owe, who will accept your payment and where your car is. Once the Marshal has your car for 72 hours, they will begin the process of notifying you that your vehicle is being prepared for auction. Get your car before then, or ask the Marshal about possibly going to a Department of Finance office when they’re open to get a Sale Hold, which might buy you a little time. Now go to Paragraph 10.


Paragraph 10. Go to the bottom of this page for frequently asked questions, including what identification and documentation you’ll need to get your car back.
If your registration is in the car, an escort at the tow pound will allow you to retrieve it, but expect a longer wait.
Some cars are booted, or booted and towed. The booting information is here.
Weekly resurfacing schedules are here.
The street closure map and special traffic advisories are here.
The street fair calendar is here.
Parking sign explanations are here.
A nice list of driver resources is here.
The giant list of NYC traffic rules is here.

Hopefully you got your car back in one piece. Next time, remember that if you deal with your parking tickets on time, you can likely pay the fines online.
Posted in New York City
Views 511 Comments 0

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