My car got towed in Chicago
February 16, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I live in chicago and got my car towed last night (on Division bet. western and california). The reason is because there is no parking on the street when snow is two inches or more (from 3am to 7am). It has not snowed since wednesday and there was no snow in the street when I parked there, nor did it snow during the evening. I paid the fee to get my car out and I have scheduled a hearing for 2/23/07. Has anyone successfully gotten their money back? Am I in the wrong? I would appreciate any advice I can get going into this hearing.
posted by danb1 to Law & Government (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have nothing of value for you about the hearing, but towing cars in Chicago has a rich history, i.e the Lincoln Park Pirates.
posted by SpecialK at 1:03 PM on February 16, 2007

This may or may not help, but:

The signs say "two inches deep" but don't indicate where. According to the city's website it's "on the street".
posted by FlamingBore at 1:13 PM on February 16, 2007

Do you have pictures taken at the time you found your car towed? Are you sure your car was towed because there was snow on the ground - does it say so on the ticket?
posted by phaedon at 1:14 PM on February 16, 2007

Have you tipped your Alderman lately?

Seriously, stop by the aldermanic office and make your case. Aldermen have magic wands by which they can make these things go away.

So long as you're willing to vote for them in perpetuity.
posted by aladfar at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here is the city's page about it. It does say more than 2 inches on the street. You might want to take a picture of the street to show that there is not 2 inches on it. I live in Chicago and I have found that when it comes to parking tickets, you are wrong until proven wrong, i. e., you will lose.
I think it even more of a battle to get the towing fees back, but if you can take a day off work easily, you may as well give it a try.
posted by lee at 1:19 PM on February 16, 2007

aladfar is right, stopping by the Alderman's office is a good idea, they can tell you what's up.
posted by lee at 1:24 PM on February 16, 2007

Sorry, danb1 - you're out of luck. There are some streets that have a "can't park here if the snow is over 2 inches" rule. There are also other streets where you can't park, between the hours of 3AM - 7AM regardless of whether there's snow or not.

This is the Winter Parking Ban, effective from December 1 - April 1.

More information here, here, here (pdf), and here (pdf).

I got tagged in the same way, December 2nd. It sucks bad, and I don't think the signs are very clear at all. But I'm afraid there's not anything you can do - besides warning others.
posted by avoision at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2007

The weird part of this (for me at least) is that I didn't get a ticket when my car was towed. It seems that some tow truck driver just decided to tow me. The only reason I know why that is the reason I was towed was because the people at the impound lot (not a city owned lot, but a contractor owned lot) told me the reason.
posted by danb1 at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2007

Seconding the Alderman suggestion. It's been a while since I lived in Chicago, but when I did, Ed Eisendrath my Alderman used his magic wand to eliminate a ticket and to get the street plowed.

Heck, blame it on the city. The only reason there was two or more inches of snow on the street two days after the snowfall is because they did not plow it as they were supposed to. You should not be paying for their incompetency. Take pictures.

Send the facts to the Tribune. In today's online edition they had this photo gallery of the whole chair saving spaces on the street thing that is so much a part of the Chicago neighborhoods. Or, email She wrote a story today about the excess salt put down on the streets.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:39 PM on February 16, 2007

It seems that some tow truck driver just decided to tow me.

I can't speak for Chicago, but this isn't uncommon in big cities that have multi-stage snow removal (where the snow's pushed out of the way as it falls, and then removed to snow dumps a few days later). Before the big trucks and plows come in, tow trucks just get everyone out of the way, no time or interest in ticketing as well.
posted by mendel at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2007

You can check here to see if you did get a ticket, it may have fallen off. I don't think they can tow you without ticketing you. Also I found this, it's from three years ago, but probably still accurate, just not on the city site any longer. Your excuse is listed, you just have to prove it.
posted by lee at 1:42 PM on February 16, 2007

I talked to the alderman's office. They say that I'm out of luck due to the winter parking rules. The signs are worded very vague and it is kind of annoying. Thanks for the help everybody.
posted by danb1 at 1:47 PM on February 16, 2007

As much as it sucks because of the poor implementation, this does sound like a reasonable rule. If a snowstorm had hit overnight, as tends to happen in the winter, your car could have been an obstacle for plows the next morning.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2007

the city is good in one aspect ... use this handy tool tool see if you did get a ticket .. and it fell off.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

So on streets with the rule specified in the question, do drivers have to get up in the night to see if it has snowed, and move their car if it has?
posted by yohko at 5:11 PM on February 16, 2007

oh. well just delete that second tool, please.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:49 PM on February 16, 2007

Get photos. Said photos must cover the entire street so that it is obvious which street it is.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 AM on February 17, 2007

So on streets with the rule specified in the question, do drivers have to get up in the night to see if it has snowed, and move their car if it has?

They could, but usually in wintry climes you check the forecast the night before and if there's a storm coming you don't park there in the first place.
posted by mendel at 3:44 PM on February 17, 2007

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