Aug 11, 2022 - News

What to do if you get towed in Boston

A long alleyway in a parking lot.
The walk of shame into the Boston city tow lot. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Here's a reminder: Boston has stringent parking laws.

1 annoying thing: After an evening out with friends, a Boston driver may find that their 2007 Ford Focus isn't where they parked it.

  • Perhaps that Bostonian thought to sneak into a spot not far from a fire hydrant.

Of note: This story isn't at all inspired by what I went through last Friday afternoon, just so you know.

How to survive: If you can't find your car, the first step is to check whether it's been towed.

  1. Search the city's online towing database, which is kept up to date with license plate numbers for all impounded vehicles.
  2. If it's been towed by a private company for parking not on city property, use this guide.

Pro tip: The city's database will also tell you if your vehicle's registration is expired. The reminder will let you know you've been putting off dealing with the RMV, and that it's going to cost you.

Where to go: The city's tow lot is at 200 Frontage Rd, wedged between Rt. 93 and the Commuter Rail tracks that separate South Boston from the South End.

  • Call a sympathetic friend, a justifiably irritated significant other or an Uber.
  • The tow lot office is open 7am-10:30pm Monday-Friday, but the automated kiosks are available 24/7.

How to get your car back: Boston makes it fairly painless to pay your fines and be on your way. The fee for being towed — which, after all, you didn't even ask to happen — is $90.

  • And of course there's the $100 ticket for parking "near" the hydrant in the first place.
  • You can pay cash or cough up an additional 2.5% charge to use a credit card.

Worth noting: It'll cost $15 a day to store your vehicle at the tow lot, so you better get over there ASAP.

My thought bubble: As you drive through the gate after getting your car back, take a moment to think about the cost of gas, insurance and other automotive expenses.

  • Was it really all worth it for a 2007 Focus?
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