Like every state, New York State has specifics rules and regulations about vehicle towing services. There are different laws to dispose of abandoned and unclaimed cars, as well as the towing of vehicles that are parked improperly.
Abandoned and Unclaimed Vehicles in New York
New York State defines an abandoned vehicle as unattended and left on someone's property for a specific number of hours without permission from the owner. The state of New York considers a vehicle to be abandoned if:
- The car doesn't have tags after it is left more than six hours on a highway or other public place.
- Left unattended for twenty-four hours or more on a highway or other public place with available parking.
- Left unattended for 48 hours or more on a highway or other public place after parking becomes illegal (for example, only for a limited number of hours).
- Left unattended for more than 96 hours on private property without the property owner's permission.
An unclaimed motor vehicle is one held by a mechanic or other auto-related business until they receive payment from the vehicle owner toward repairs, towing or storage fees. This definition does not apply to impounded vehicles unless the local municipality or authority does not wish to care for or own the car.
Towing an Abandoned or Unclaimed Vehicle
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) states that if a person has an abandoned motor vehicle on their property, they should first contact the local police department to ensure there are no reports of theft. A towing company will remove cars unlawfully parked at the property owner's request without the vehicle owner's consent. A property owner can transfer it to a vehicle collector or dismantler if:
- Its wholesale value is $1,250 or less.
- It is 10 model years old or older.
- It has been abandoned for at least a month.
An unclaimed vehicle's tow truck fees will require a Garageman's Lien. The repairer must notify the vehicle owner of their intent advertise its sale and sell it at public auction. If the lien is for towing fees and storage charges, that business entity may fill out a Garageman's Certification and Bill of Sale for Vehicles Worth Less Than $500 form depending on the car's value.
Towing an Improperly Parked Car
The state also has traffic laws to regulate the stopping, standing or parking of vehicles in certain areas. A driver of an improperly parked vehicle may not only get a ticket but may see their car impounded. They cannot park:
- Within five meters of a fire hydrant unless they stay inside the vehicle.
- Along another parked vehicle (doubled-parked) under any circumstance.
- In an intersection.
- On railroad tracks.
- Opposite or next to construction, excavations or obstructions, if it blocks the flow of traffic.
- Within 30-feet of a pedestrian safety zone unless otherwise marked.
- In tunnels or on bridges.
Additional New York State Vehicle Parking Laws on Public Streets
New York State also does not allow drivers to park within 20 feet of a crosswalk, 20 feet of a fire station driveway (or 75 feet on the opposite side of the street), and within 30 feet of a stop sign, yield sign or traffic light. Drivers cannot park along cut-down, constructed or lowered curbs that give pedestrians better access to a sidewalk. They cannot park in reserved spots for disabled people without a permit. Drivers cannot park in front of a driveway unless they own the property or are a tenant of that property and their license plate number or registration matches its address.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.