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5 things to know if your car gets towed

With fees and company policies that vary from parking lot to parking lot, these are important things to know if your car is towed

Othman Alishaq, a freshman criminal justice major, pays for his spot in the parking lot on the corner of east Filmore street and north Central avenue on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016
Othman Alishaq, a freshman criminal justice major, pays for his spot in the parking lot on the corner of east Filmore street and north Central avenue on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016

Paying for parking in downtown Phoenix can be expensive — but so can retrieving your car from an impound lot. 

Around the Downtown Phoenix campus and surrounding areas, parking has become limited with increased construction around campus — making parking trickier for students. 

Exercise and wellness junior Michelle Hoang was recently towed from the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. She said it cost her $120 to retrieve her car from the impound. 

Hoang said trying to locate her vehicle was a long and stressful experience. 

"After realizing that my vehicle was gone, it took 24 hours to get my car back because the towing yard that had my car did not open till 9 a.m.," she said. 

ASU Parking Regulations

ASU employees, students and guests who park at ASU are responsible for reading and fully understanding ASU transit and parking regulations.

Marc Lucius, a parking enforcement officer for ASU's Parking and Transit Services, said the University ensures students have adequate parking while attending the University. He said parking regulations are enforced at all campuses in order to meet students' needs.

“Students are responsible for knowing all parking regulations if they drive or park at ASU,” Lucius said. 

Parking and Transit services have access to MVD records and can find information on the vehicle's owner by running a simple license plate check. 

"Parking and Transit will match the information given by the MVD to student and staff records where if found, ASU will add these charges to their student account," Lucius said. 

Unpaid fees on a student account can result in a hold on a student's account, which may stop them from graduating or signing up for the upcoming semester. 

City of Phoenix parking vs. private parking

According to the City of Phoenix, officials act in accord with the city's regulations for each parking violation on a case-by-case basis.

Private parking lots are independently owned, and the owners of these lots are allowed to make regulations as they see fit.

U.S. Parking Systems Manager Leon Woodward said his company keeps track of ways in which consumers can scam the system and are enforcing new regulations which could result in being towed.

“Students have found ways to cheat our system by exchanging ticket stubs throughout the day, parking for free in spots that already have been paid for, which is against our regulations,” Woodward said.

U.S. Parking Systems are now enforcing regulations in order to stop students from breaking regulations. License plate numbers are now matched with the parking tickets. However, if they do not match, violators will be put on a tow list, which is a warning to that individual that any additional violation will result in being towed.

"First-time violators will receive a written warning for the first time offense, second-time offenders will have had a warning and now are susceptible to a tow," Woodward said. 

Places to avoid parking

Phoenix city code prohibits any parking next to an emergency access location. Blocking any fire hydrant and parking on a designated emergency curbside parking will automatically result in being towed.

Going over a parking meter's time limit will result in fines that will have to be paid for by the person registered to the vehicle.

Sgt. Vince Lewis, a public affairs officer for the Phoenix Police Department, said people should be aware of all parking and traffic laws when traveling to the downtown Phoenix area.

“What Phoenix Police are looking for is obvious traffic violations, any parking that impedes with the safety of others will result in an immediate tow,” Lewis said. 

Who to call and where to go

If anyone has their car towed, they often have to pay a corresponding fine, as well. 

Because one single towing company cannot handle the amount of cars being towed, different towing companies may be used for the removal of a vehicle. 

Lewis said Phoenix officials are currently deciding on which tow companies will have the responsibility of handling all downtown parking issues.

“Terms are still being decided by the city council on which towing companies are going to be used for city impoundment,” Lewis said.

Lewis said students can call the Code Enforcement Tow liaison office for information on a missing car.

If someone's car has been towed by the City of Phoenix or any private company, he or she must report to the city that has removed the vehicle. At this point, the report is accessible to the public.

Cost of recovering the car

Arizona law requires all owners to pay all towing charges along with storage charges, as well. Individuals who are towed must pay the parking violation fee which varies by case, in addition to towing and storage cost. 

According to A.R.S.28-3511 a towing company shall not exceed the statutory limit of $15.00 per day for storage. Towing companies have now been held accountable, and they must cooperate with City of Phoenix and must comply with all rules and regulations.

However, the cost of towing makes up the largest portion of the fee and varies from company to company.

Recovering a car is a long and expensive process. Hoang said trying to contact the towing company can be difficult, especially if it is on a weekend. 

"Waking up in the morning and finding out that my car was missing was terrifying, especially when they did not answer their phone due to their weekend hours," Hoang said. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @jmdelga3 on Twitter.

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