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Dude, where’s my car?!?!?

December 7, 2011

So, my day started with a text from a student that went something like this… “Carrie, I’m pretty positive my car got towed yesterday after I left it on 33rd St…”.

Oh, that is a terrible feeling; one the ShushLady AND the ShushMobile know all too well. One summer, I parked the ShushMobile on N. Charles St while I ran into Kinkos/FedEx to pick up a poster. As I walked out, I noticed the ShushMobile wasn’t parked out front. Had I forgotten where I parked it? Did it get stolen? I turned my head to the right just in time to see the ShushMobile on the back of a flatbed tow truck heading north on Charles St. Let me tell you, that was a fun phone call to my boss. Me: “Ahhhh, Dean Boswell? Ummm, I think the city just towed the patrol car. Yeah, I parked it in the rush hour zone.” When Susan was done laughing at me (I do have an awesome boss who found this funny instead of getting mad at me!), she sent a co-worker over to drive me down to the impound lot and nearly $300 later, the ShushMobile was back in my possession.

If the ShushMobile had been towed by this truck, I would have felt better. Photo credit Kinneytowing.com

So, why am I blogging about this? Because, sadly, if you have a car here and you don’t have a designated spot for it, the odds of you accumulating parking tickets and eventually being towed are pretty high. If you find yourself in this situation, here is what you should do.

Prevention!

Start by not getting those tickets. Many students who live in the area qualify for a Residential Parking Permit. Is it a “hassle-free” solution? Nope. Can it save you a lot of money and hassle in the future? Definitely. For more information on obtaining a RRP, check out my other website. If you don’t qualify for an RPP, you really need to pay attention to the street signs. Many area streets have parking restrictions during either morning or evening rush hour, street cleaning days, snow emergency routes, etc. My personal suggestion? Leave the car back home. There are plenty of free and low cost transportation options around here and ZipCar is here for those days you need wheels.

Tickets 😦

Already have a ticket or two? Pay them. Now. Seriously, it only takes three outstanding tickets before the city can legally boot or tow your car. You can pay on line. Print out a receipt and hold on to it. Do not use this on line service if your vehicle has been booted already.

Too late, its gone!

The first place to call is the Fallsway Tow yard 410-396-4613. Many people call the police first when they can’t find their car, and this is ok. However, sometimes the police don’t have the most up to date information on what cars have been towed. They may tell you there is no record of it being towed, but that might not be the case. You will want to call Fallsway next. Located under the Jones Falls Expressway at 410 Fallsway, this impound lot is usually the first stop for vehicles that have been towed. Here is the key to making this as hassle free as possible. Be prepared when you call. Know your make, model, tag number and mention what state the tags are from. Treat whomever answers that phone like royalty. If you treat them kindly, they will help you; if you act like all of this is their fault, you will have trouble finding your car. Find out exactly how much it will cost to get the car released. Bring cash or credit/debit cards, no checks. You will need your driver’s license and need to know where the registration is to the vehicle.

If it is not at Fallsway, it has most likely been moved to 6700 Pulaski Highway 410-396-9958. This is the last stop for a towed vehicle. Any vehicle that has not been claimed from the Fallsway Lot after 48 hours or by Friday, gets moved to Pulaski. All the above rules apply here, too.

The last two times I have taken a student to a tow yard have gone completely differently. The last trip out to Pulaski, the tow yard would not release the vehicle to the student without a notarized letter from the owner of the vehicle (his father) giving him permission to pick up the car. Fortunately, they accepted a faxed copy of this letter. This is in the rules for picking up a car. This morning’s trip to Fallsway did not require a notarized letter, even though the vehicle was in the student’s mother’s name. It depends on who is working that day. Ask before you go to either yard.

A vehicle is considered “abandoned” in Baltimore city if it has been parked in the same spot for more the 2-3 days. If you are heading home for the holidays but not taking your car, you need to find some off street parking (e.g. a parking garage, campus parking lot, etc.). If you leave it on the street too long, it might not be there when you get back. Don’t worry, you can text me to tell me about it 😉

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