'Punished for eternity,' cries driver as car towed over unpaid tickets

A DRIVER has complained after a dozen parking tickets continued to balloon into thousands of dollars in unpaid debt.

She said she received several parking tickets when parking her car on city streets. Eventually, the unpaid tickets led city officials to tow her car.

A driver said a series of parking tickets led city officials to tow her car (stock image)Credit: GettyClose up of a parking ticket under a delivery truck windshield wiper.Credit: Getty

Lesley Turner, a Los Angeles resident, said she received numerous parking tickets in an op-ed with the Los Angeles Times in 2023.

Turner, a widow and a single mother, said she was "one disaster away from poverty" before receiving any parking tickets.

She said she moved in her well-used Jeep Cherokee to the city in 2021.

The SUV received several tickets - a $63 fine for failing to move the vehicle, for example.

Read More on Parking Rules

Other fines ranged from $50 to almost $100.

"My limited income was stretched so thin, I simply couldn’t afford to pay them," she wrote.

Eventually, the fines were replaced with a warning that classified her car as "delinquent" on payments.

Turner said she found her vehicle was towed by the city the day her daughter's school reported a medical emergency.

"Now that my car has been towed, I feel more like Sisyphus," she said referring to the fictional character in Homer's Iliad.

"[I was] punished for eternity never to get that boulder over the hill."

What to do if your car is towed

Turner said she called the city's department’s traffic division - the agency said she owed more than $3,000.

After incurring additional storage fees following the tow, she said the fines ballooned to almost $6,000.

"In order to get my car released from the impound, I’m required to pay all fines to the DMV in full, as well as the fees accrued by the towing company," she wrote.

She said officials notified her that her car would be put under the hammer if she failed to pay.

Overall, Turner argued the parking punishment was an indictment on the city's poor residents.

Because the city continually racked up fines on impoverished residents, the drivers continued to miss payments and owe more.

Furthermore, the city doesn't generate additional revenue from the fines if drivers are unable to pay for it, she added.

What to do if your car is towed

Wrongfully or not, retrieving a towed vehicle can be a hassle.

If your vehicle is towed after parking in a "No Parking" zone or other legitimate reason, there are a few steps to take to get it back.

Steps to take when your car is towed:

Try to figure out why your car was towed. Did you not see a posted "No Parking" sign? Did you miss a car payment? Did you return to a lot where you have unpaid citations? Finding the reason can narrow down the phone numbers to dial.
Locate the vehicle. Most states, cities, or counties require towing companies to leave some form of contact information via a posted sign or sent by mail.
Recovery dates and times depend on the company that towed the vehicle, but those times will be posted to the website or can be recited by a representative.
Pay the fees. Be careful to be as prompt as possible, as some tow yards may charge storage fees by the day.

If you feel your vehicle was wrongfully towed, contesting the action can be done with the following steps:

Be prompt - many states have a small window of time where it's acceptable to file a complaint against a company that wrongfully towed the vehicle.
Gather supporting documents: photos, emails, receipts, police reports, and witness statements if applicable. The more evidence, the better.
Get familiar with your local laws, as laws for towing companies vary per state.
Try speaking with the towing company. Sometimes it may have been a simple oversight, and the matter can be resolved quickly.
Contact the Justice of the Peace in your area, as they may have more insight or resources to help. They are often utilized for towing cases.
Talk to a lawyer. Many lawyers have free case consultations, and depending on the case, it may be worth it to utilize a lawyer.

Source: Oregon Department of Justice, National General, Rak Law Firm

However, in March 2023, a bill proposal passed the Assembly Transportation Committee that would eliminate "poverty towing" in the state.


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