Monday, September 8, 2014


This is a map of the 5 boros of New York City and its suburb, the counties of Nassau and Suffolk that make up the rest of Long Island, New York, about 115 miles total. Our reader is concerned that the City of New York will go out to the Island to tow her boyfriend's car for scofflaw tickets issued inside the city. I will explain to her why that theoretically can happen:
Dear Al,

I got your email from your Blog site. I read several entries there . . .

My boyfriend has several parking tickets in judgment from New York City. He lives on Long Island [the suburbs outside of the New York City jurisdiction in either Nassau or Suffolk Counties]. He received a letter from the New York City Department Of Finance two days ago, warning him that he's in danger of being towed and that there are six parking tickets in judgment [this means he was found summarily guilty and now has to pay a fine for each one]. So, I hope he pays them soon.

I don't believe they'd come out here just to tow his car. The letter did say they would take legal action such as preventing renewal of registration and restraining bank accounts.

Do they really freeze accounts? Can they tow his car from Long island for NYC tickets? He will be paying them in next two weeks, the parking tickets. Thanks for the quick reply!



UPDATE 9/20/14: Continue reading my response below as it still applies, but I recently learned this information to give your questions an even better answer: Although the NYC Department of Finance cannot directly have your car towed from one of its government enforcement arms I listed below outside the city of New York as I explain below, they recently acquired the capability of having a private collections agency do their dirty work that the Marshal, Sheriff, or NYPD can't do: according to this article by the New York Daily News, the city just recently hired a collections agency called Law Enforcement Systems, which specializes in collecting out of state vehicle registration databases and going after the vehicle registrants who have outstanding NYC parking violations with balances due. The City of New York after all these years of not being able to collect scofflaw fines from millions of people who illegally park their out of state cars inside the city, now will have to pay the piper, including being subjected to the risk of having their cars towed even when parked out of the city, even out of New York State. 

According to the article the number of cars towed in the past 6-1/2 months as of this blog post date for NYC parking ticket scofflaw were 21 from West Virginia (?? of all places, this is scary), 65 from Vermont, 166 from Rhode Island (you would think there were only 166 cars total inside RI), and 243 from Ohio. Pennsylvania and Connecticut seem to be the most vulnerable to out of state tow (New Jersey obviously shouldn't be a surprise as well), and for now it seems that Delaware and New Hampshire are the collection agency's weak spot, as according to the Daily News, no one has been towed from those states as of yet as they are not able to access those databases. But I'm sure it won't take long before they are able to . . .

SO if I were you, I would still follow the advice below, tell your boyfriend don't park his car on the street or in a public lot (park it in a privately owned garage), and pay those tickets ASAP. I hope this new info helps all of you.

Humbly Yours,




Greetings to you, my former Long Island neighbor, wherever you live on the Isle of LONG. I’m a Los Angelino now no doubt, but I never forget where my roots took hold. Hope you didn’t freeze to death last winter and hope the recent summer rainstorms didn’t drown your home. We sure could use some of that wetness here in Los Angeles, although it’s been sunny and warm year round. I can’t complain, we’re just dry and thirsty way over here.

Thank you for your great questions. Generally, no, the sworn NYC enforcement services cannot tow your BF’s car if he keeps it out on Long Island, but if I were him I’d be careful coming into the city leaving it parked on a NYC street. I’d park it in a garage and a private one at that. Since the geographical area of employment (GAOE) of the enforcement arms of the NYC Parking Violations Bureau of the Department of Finance includes the NYC Sheriff, the NYC Marshal, either of their deputies or agents, the DOT Enforcement, or the NYPD, all of which have a GAOE within the five boroughs of NYC and not anywhere else (because of civil process the Marshal has a little more latitude in his/her authority to pursue scofflaws), that means their authority to ticket, boot, and/or tow parking violation vehicles, are only within the City of New York, and no where else. Very much like an NYPD officer who cannot just simply take a cruise in a NYPD radio car on the LIE (Long Island Expressway) to Nassau or Suffolk counties (trust me this has been done before to the NYPD brass’s chagrin) to start tagging parked cars in, say Mineola, NY, or issue a red light ticket in, say Riverhead, NY, then head on back into the city (because Nassau and Suffolk are not the NYPD’s GAOE), an NYPD officer cannot issue a traffic ticket outside NYC unless he/she, for example, observed a speeder in Queens and then chased that speeder “in hot pursuit” all the way out to, say Exit 70 on the LIE, to finally stop that speeder there in Manorville NY to finally cite the motorist. So it goes for the arms that reach to tow your boyfriend's car: the furthest they (the government enforcement arms) can usually go to tow is at the NYC border and no further.

But I'd be careful parking it anywhere on a NYC street, however, as either the NYC Sheriff, NYC Marshal, either of their deputies or agents, the DOT, or the NYPD and their traffic agents could tow it depending on the circumstances. I would also be careful ANYWHERE IN NEW YORK STATE as depending on how many NYC parking tickets he has or how long they been unpaid, as his NYS registration may become suspended if they go unpaid that length of time. The NYC Department of Finance cannot DIRECTLY have a law enforcement agency tow an out-of-city registered vehicle for scofflaw outside the city or for a parking violation outside the city, but they do have the authority to interrupt your registration validity statewide (thus nationwide), or levy your checking account for fines past due from scofflaw. I'd also be careful ANYWHERE ELSE INCLUDING OUTSIDE NYS. They now can hire a private collections agency to tow your parked car outside the city, including outside New York State. Your BF would get a notice by mail first to warn him, if that were to happen (he got a warning letter about the judgment so the good news is that his DMV mailing address is up to date . . .).

If the IRS or a state tax agency can levy a checking account for unpaid taxes, youbetcha they can levy an account for unpaid tickets, in fact you can say that they probably have gotten more aggressive at revenue collection given the state of government finances of late (see my PS above). They could also withhold registration renewal at expiration time, which unresolved could lead to things such as a registration or even a driver’s license suspension. If his registration or driver’s license gets suspended then any law agency throughout the state up to the NYS Police can tow him if he gets pulled over or tagged for illegal parking anywhere in the state of New York if they stop him and run his license plate. If you read my PS note above, you also now know that the NYC Department of Finance can now also hire a collections agency to do what the City once couldn't: tow your car from out of state and collect unpaid parking ticket fines while you are out of state.

BOTTOM LINE: Just make sure he pays the tickets, and keeps a receipt, preferably inside the car in case he gets towed accidentally after payment (this does happen). If he does all this he should be in good shape, and back in your good graces, once again, if he is not. If he isn't, kick him in the pants to make sure he doesn't do this again, and make it look like you're really mad at him so he can take you out on a nice dinner date to make up with you (wink). 

If this storyline is more complicated than what you write here, then I suggest you speak to a traffic attorney to iron this all out . . . 

LONG ISLAND PARKING SOUND: the arm of the NYC Parking Violations Bureau is a large and long one no doubt, to levy your checking account and effect your registration, maybe even your driver’s license, AND NOW long or strong enough for a private tow truck company working for a collections agency to just hop on the LIE and find your BF’s car to tow it way out there on Long Island. There was a time that only the AAA can do that. NOT ANYMORE. I hope this answers your question, and may you never need towing for any reason at all . . .

Safe Driving and Parking,

DEAR READERS: I'M NOW AT OVER 60,000 HITS! Thank you for your world-wide support! Please keep reading. For those of you following me on Twitter, I will continue posting interesting news articles that are somehow related to my posts, so I suggest you click here to follow so you can get interesting stories related to traffic, transportation, vehicles, the police, the law, and crime. Keep on re-pinning and following me on Pinterest with my unusual and interesting photos, and if you by chance find me using one of your photos to your praise or objection please let me know. If you have any questions to ask me, don’t be shy: use the form below or leave me a message after each post.

Suggested Reading:
What is a CARMAGEDDON and when will it happen? 
Am I allowed to walk on a highway?
Suggested Reading:
The definition of a “Concours” car and event
Suggested Reading:
Suggested Reading:
What is the new national terror alert warning?
What happens during a high-speed hot police pursuit across state lines or into Mexico or Canada?

Sunday, March 30, 2014



HELLO FOLKS: Hope your year is going well so far. I’m still here, just busy with work and school that I have even less time to devote to my blog, but I’m still here and available to answer questions, if you have any. I may not have posted an entry lately, but rest assured I do go back in here from time to time to see what you have to say about the things I write about.

For this post I decided to try something different, and instead of you asking the questions, I will. I recently conducted this interview below for a school project for one of my broadcast journalism classes and decided the topic was so compelling that I posted the interview here on my blog. It is in audio format, so the 10-minute tape is a few paragraphs below, and the transcript, if you prefer to just read it instead, is even further down.

It seems getting some kind of transportation from the launch of an app from your smart phone is getting easier all the time. I remember the days when a Palm Treo phone ruled the world, and you could order a taxi by using an app like Taxi Magic to hail a cab. I also remember the days when Zipcar first came out, where you can rent a car by the hour, GAS AND INSURANCE INCLUDED, and make reservations for the nearest car in your neighborhood by launching the app to find the nearest garage. Depending on the time of day for as cheap as $7/hour, it could sometimes be cheaper than hailing a NYC cab to hustle across town in a Zipcar. But it recently seems that getting a ride around town is now on a totally different level . . .

“Lyft” is an Android or iPhone app that is a ride sharing service, which unlike Zipcar, where you share a Zipcar-owned car with other subscribers on an individual basis. With Lyft and Sidecar, instead of sharing the car, you share the ride in someone else’s private car with them driving in exchange for a fee. This is also opposed to a traditional taxi or limo fare where a professional driver in an owned or leased taxi or black car/limo is paid by providing car service, where you pay for both the car and the service combined. Have I already gotten you confused?

Well, apparently the LAX Police aren’t. For the past several months the Los Angeles World Airports Authority (LAWA) Police have been pulling over ride sharing car owners at LAX for various violations, strictly enforcing a state law that allows the state’s airports to apply different rules when it comes to regulating traffic that leaves the airport with extra fees and surcharges.

In this crackdown, there have been a handful of arrests at the airport, and hundreds of tickets issued to drivers from such phone apps like Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber. This crackdown doesn’t affect passengers who are looking for a ride. But it has had a significant impact on the drivers looking for passengers at the airport. Most of the violations are for things like not having the right insurance to carry passengers and not collecting the airport pickup surcharge. If the police start there, then that opens a whole new can of worms for the police to start looking for anything and everything once they stop a car for those violations alone, and from a legal standpoint, it’s all legit.

It is one thing to implement summary enforcement on professionals like a bus, truck, taxi, or limo driver, whom are all held to a higher standard, but another when the police start pulling over passenger car drivers for the same issues that effect professional drivers as well. It does grab the attention of many, and the impact has been jarring. Many of the tickets have been dismissed in court, but that doesn’t marginalize the experience of being pulled over by the police, sometimes with strangers in your car, served a ticket at roadside, and then going through the system for some kind of disposition and resolution. Apps like Sidecar and Uber have stopped some drivers from making airport transfers from the airport. Many ride sharing drivers have gone to social media to share their experiences about getting pulled over by the airport police, and getting tickets for things one would think they would never be cited for driving their own passenger car.

I interviewed “Jerry Gonzalez,” a Lyft driver who came forward anonymously to share his stories of what it is like to be a Lyft driver, and to explain what are the challenges he and his colleagues face when they pick up a passenger at LAX. He agreed to do the interview under the following circumstances:

1.  The interview would be 5-10 minutes long conducted at a time and location at the driver’s convenience.
2.     The conversation is recorded with the driver’s knowledge on the interviewer’s iPhone in the driver’s presence and is subject to examination by anyone requesting or inquiring about its authenticity.
3.   The pre-determined purpose of this interview was to discuss the law enforcement related controversies of Lyft driving, particularly at LAX.
4.     Depending on the broadcast quality, the driver understood that this conversation and transcript might be posted on the interviewer’s blog at a later time as it contains valuable content of a police related nature.
5.     The driver understood that this interview was primarily for a college assignment.
6.   It was understood that this interview would be done anonymously with the driver using a fictitious name to protect his identity from recrimination either by authorities, Lyft, or his personal car insurance company.
7.     I promised to protect the driver’s true identity.

Click here to listen to his story:  

Here’s the transcript:

Thank you “Jerry” for joining us to share some of your experiences with us.

Q.   Tell me in your own words what is Lyft and how did you get involved in it?

A. Sure, Lyft is a ride-share application through your smartphone that passengers are able to download from the website and set up to get service. I’ve been involved with Lyft for the past six months. I made a mental note to myself to use them the next time I went to the airport and I did. I really enjoyed them. I enjoyed their friendly service; it’s such a different experience than riding in a taxicab. At some point another driver asked me if I wanted to become one and here I am.

Q. How do you get paid? How does that process work?

A. What happens is at the end of each Lyft ride a passenger gets a fare and we get paid once a week 80% of our fare and 20% goes to Lyft. If there are any credit card issues, Lyft pays the driver anyway if the charges don’t go through.

Q. So if you get stiffed in some way Lyft will cover that expense for you.

A. Yes if the credit card gets declined, that is correct.

Q. What are some of the positive experience that you had with Lyft; are there any unusual experiences you had? You often hear about the dynamics of a taxi cab driver; is the dynamic similar to that of a cab driver? Are the dynamics of your job similar to that?

A. I’m sure it is. I can’t speak for cab drivers, but my Lyft experiences have been very positive. It’s always been interesting, like I have several passengers who are actually bicyclists who have gotten flat tires and they’re out in the middle of the road in the middle of the night in a panic trying to get home and they call Lyft. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to pick them up and rescue them; put their bike in the back of my car, and get them home safely. At one point a female bicyclist called me her “nighttime savior.”

Q. Have there been any negative experiences being a Lyft driver?

A. Yes there have been, as far as negative that would involve picking up young adults in West Hollywood coming out of the clubs intoxicated. The negative experiences have been when I ask them to please put on their safety belts and they decline. I remind them that this is the state of California law and not me trying to be mean. One time there were these three passengers who refused to put their seatbelts on so I went ahead and informed them that their Lyft ride had ended and told them to please exit my car.

Q. So you threw them out right on the side of the road?

A. No, I didn’t throw them out; I actually asked them to leave. I forewarned them three times to put on the safety belt and they refused. At that point I figured you know what? If they aren’t concerned about their own safety to argue about it with me, why should I take the risk to give them a ride? So at that point I ended the ride and asked them to get out of the car.

Q. So it ended that way?

A. Correct. At first they tried to backpedal, and said, “oh we’ll put them on,’ but at that point I had ask them three individual times to put them on, that they refused, so at that point I didn’t want to argue any more.

Q. Since we are talking about safety, let’s talk about your interaction as a Lyft driver with the police. I’ve read a lot of controversy lately between Lyft drivers and the police, particularly at LAX airport. I understand that they can be quite aggressive in their enforcement over there, and I also understand that there are extra laws over there that pertain to you that are causing the enforcement, and why they are out there. What has been your experiences, or those experiences with other Lyft drivers, as far as the police at LAX?

A. Sure I’ll first give you my experiences and then those I’ve heard from other Lyft drivers. My experiences have always been very positive. We’ve been told by Lyft management that when we go to the airport to remove our mustaches from the front of our cars.

Q. What is that mustache?

A. It’s a pink mustache that we put on the front of our grilles and it’s for branding and marketing purposes. Its like Nike has their swoosh and Lyft has their mustache.

Q. Is there any meaning behind the mustache?

A. It’s just about recognition and safety because what happens is a lot of passengers and drivers when they request a lift they’ll pick up passengers and the passengers will know that this is their ride with the pink mustache. Some of the other services don’t have branding like we do . . . so anyway we were told to remove our mustaches. My experiences have been very positive. I’ve never been harassed by the police because I’ve adhered to the guidelines that Lyft has forwarded to us. On the other hand, I have heard of other drivers that have been harassed where in most of those cases they haven’t taken their mustache off. Recently the police at the airport have been cracking down on these ride share companies coming into the airport, primarily for two reasons: one is insurance, the other is the airport needs to collect their $4 pick up fee for any transportation company that brings a passenger into the airport.

Q. The $4 collection fee seems to be the focal point as to what the LAWA Police seems to be enforcing, is that correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Now what about the insurance?

A. The LAX police want to ensure that any transportation company that picks up passengers is insured, that they have commercial insurance. My understanding from what I’ve read is that my company Lyft has a $1 million liability coverage for any incidents that occur while on our way to pick up passengers or while we have passengers or in our car. I personally believe our current insurance covers or meet the requirements of commercial. What’s been happening it that Lyft has been having an issue with the $4 fee. Lyft has finally agreed, and said fine, let’s deal with the fee. I understand that Lyft is now in the process of negotiating the fee with the LAX police to get that resolved, so that we can go there without incident to pick up passengers.

Q. Do you know how those negotiations are coming along? Are you anywhere close to an impasse where you’ll be able to go to the airport and not worry about being pulled over by the police? 

A. Two weeks ago Lyft sent out an email to all the drivers indicating that they were in the process of negotiating with the police department to settle the $4 fee. So that’s news to me because at first they were trying to fight it because Lyft felt that the $4 fee was for taxis and we’re not considered a taxi service. We went through the California Public Utilities Commission to identify our business model and they identified us as a transportation network company, not as a livery service. My understanding is that any citations or any legal fees that any drivers incur during this ticketing process, that Lyft will cover them. The contention is the citation number that gets issued to these drivers for operating illegal taxis, gets kicked out of the courts because we are not a taxi service. So even though the police at the airport are citing drivers, I have not heard of them going further than being dismissed.

Thank you Jerry Gonzalez for joining us and for sharing your experiences with us with Lyft the smart phone app ride sharing service.

For those of you following me on Twitter, I will continue posting interesting news articles that are somehow related to my posts, so I suggest you click here to follow so you can get interesting stories related to traffic, transportation, vehicles, the police, the law, and crime. Keep on re-pinning and following me on Pinterest with my unusual and interesting photos, and if you by chance find me using one of your photos to your praise or objection please let me know. If you have any questions to ask me, don’t be shy: use the form below or leave me a message after each post.

Suggested Reading:

Suggested Reading:

The definition of a “Concours” car and event

Suggested Reading:

Suggested Reading:

What happens during a high-speed hot police pursuit across state lines or into Mexico or Canada?