What to Do When Your Car is Towed

Let’s face it, coming back to a towed car sucks. What makes it worse is that there are various government agencies around the City that can tow your car. Your vehicle can be towed by the police department, city marshall or sheriff. Where your car goes depends on who’s towed it.

What Can Get You Towed

Before figuring out where to find your car after it’s towed, let’s learn which conditions can get your car towed. According to the City of New York, your vehicle can be towed for the following reasons:

  • You owe more than $350 or more in parking summons judgment debt
  • Double-parked car
  • Parked on a fire hydrant
  • Unpaid parking meter
  • Blocking an intersection or tunnel
  • Blocking a driveway

If you do get towed, be sure to pick up your vehicle from the tow pound it’s been taken to as soon as possible. Tow pounds can be found in every borough except Staten Island. You can find the addresses of the City’s tow pounds here. 

How to Get Your Towed Vehicle Back

Your vehicle must be retrieved in person by you, your spouse, or an authorized representative, who has a notarized letter from yourself and the original title or registration. If your car is not picked up within 10 days, it will be auctioned off by the police department. You can pick up a towed vehicle on any day except major US holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

If, for any reason, you cannot or do not want to retrieve your vehicle, but want any items inside, you can request a property release. This only applies to personal property such as bags, baby car seats, and other such items. Parts of the car, such as the car radio, battery, or tires do not count and cannot be requested in a property release.

As per the City of New York, to get your vehicle back, you’ll need to bring the following with you:

  1. A valid Driver’s License
  2. The original vehicle registration stub (or the title)
  3. The vehicle’s valid Insurance Card, and
  4. If you paid your judgment debt at a Finance Business Center, the Vehicle Release form.

And, of course, you’ll need sufficient funds to cover both the tow fee and any judgement debt you may owe. You can pay via the following methods:

  • Cash
  • Certified Check
  • Credit or Debit Card (Discover American Express, MasterCard, or Visa)
  • Money Order or Traveler’s check

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