Summary & Quick Facts
- The Department of Sanitation can only remove a car if it meets the criteria of a derelict vehicle.
- The year of the car determines the kind of criteria that the city judges it with.
- If the vehicle does not meet the criteria to be classified as derelict, it is referred to the local police precinct.
- If a car with license plates accrues more than three tickets, the NYPD will tow it.
- If A car is deemed derelict, it falls under the Department of Sanitation’s jurisdiction.
- After six hours on a city street or property, the DVO unit will tag derelict cars and remove it within three days.
History Of Abandoned Cars In NYC
New Yorkers who lived or grown up in NYC prior to the mid-1990s know how much the city has changed. Those folks will remember the way the rough and tumble streets of the city looked. Between burnt out building and thousands of abandoned cars on the street, the landscape was completely different to what it looks like today. However, to folks born or moved to New York City after 1995, abandoned cars exist almost exclusively as long forgotten memories of the gritty Seventies New York.
Nowadays, the city has changed in so many significant ways. Gone are the days of endless blocks of burnt out buildings and abandoned cars. Today, in Manhattan and the gentrified areas of Brooklyn(Williamsburg, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo) there’s not even space to abandon a car. But at one point in New York’s history, abandoned cars were a legitimate problem for the city, each presenting a hindrance to traffic, a danger to children who would play in the wrecks, and a public eyesore.
According to a 1979 New York Times report, the city removed more than 79,000 abandoned cars from streets, alleys, and overpasses. But even that wasn’t its most comprehensive effort. In 1988, city agencies buckled down and removed a total of 148,257 cars from city streets. At one point, the city removed an average of 406 abandoned cars every day.
Nowadays they’re rarer, but they’re there. Nevertheless, if you go into the outer boroughs or the farther reaches of Manhattan, you can find them sitting right on the street. The telltale sign of abandoned cars are the often dusty layers of grime that scream neglect, and sometimes a ton of parking tickets slapped on.
How Does The Law Treat Abandoned Cars?
The city has legislated rules to define what an abandoned car is. According to the New York Code VAT – Vehicle & Traffic Statute Title 7 Article 33 – (1210 – 1229-D) 1224:
A motor vehicle shall be deemed to be an abandoned vehicle if left unattended:
(a) with no number plates affixed thereto, for more than six hours on any highway or other public place;
(b) for more than twenty-four hours on any highway or other public place, except a portion of a highway or public place on which parking is legally permitted;
(c) for more than forty-eight hours, after the parking of such vehicle shall have become illegal, if left on a portion of a highway or public place on which parking is legally permitted;
(d) for more than ninety-six hours on property of another if left without permission of the owner.
The Department of Sanitation can only remove a car if it meets the criteria of a derelict vehicle. These criteria can entail a number of things. For one, the hood, grill, front bumper or front fender must be missing. Moreover, the door(s), trunk lid, and hood missing or damaged. It does end there, the DOS will consider a car abandoned if the front or rear end has sustained damage.
The list gets longer, additional criteria include interior and glass damage; engine or transmission missing; damage to the right or left side; fire damage or otherwise seriously burned; or vehicle eight years or older that look deteriorated or dilapidated. The year of the car determines the kind of criteria that judge it. If the vehicle does not meet the criteria to be classified as derelict, the Department of Sanitation will tag the vehicle and refer it to your local police precinct for handling similar to a vehicle with license plates.
When Does The City Take Action Against Abandoned Cars?
The city categorizes abandoned cars in two ways. The category the car falls under denotes the jurisdiction which carries out the condemnation. If a car with license plates accrues more than three tickets, the NYPD will tow it. They will bring the car to one of several impound lots for storage. Here, after identifying the owner, they must pay the accruing towing and storage fees. After 90 days, if no owner has come forward, the car is put up for auction.
If a car is truly abandoned, meaning no license plates or identifying features, becomes the business of the Sanitation Department’s Derelict Vehicle Operations. After six hours on a city street or property, the DVO unit will tag it and remove it within three days.
Report Abandoned Cars In Your Neighborhood
Abandoned cars can be a big headache for folks in a neighborhood. Abandoned vehicles not only take up precious parking spots but can also be an eyesore to a neighborhood. The city gives citizens the ability to report abandoned vehicles in their neighborhood. You can report an abandoned vehicle with at least one fixed metal license plate left on public property for at least 48 hours. Officers from your local police precinct will respond when they are not handling emergency situations.
Alternatively, you can ask the Department of Sanitation to remove a vehicle without license plates abandoned on your private property. Vehicles owned by the property owner are not eligible for this service. Property owners must sign a waiver and make the vehicle accessible for removal. They may also have to pay a fee based on the price of scrap metal. You can make your request in writing to:
Derelict Vehicle Removal
Department of Sanitation
Central Correspondence Unit
59 Maiden Lane, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Are abandoned vehicles a problem in your neighbor? Let us know in the comments below!