Opinion: Parking on dirt roads frowned upon by constabulary
Warning: My car was towed while I was working on trails at the Watershed for a half hour.
The lot was full so I parked along the side of the wide dirt road.
I worked to try to drain the big puddles across the trail for hikers, and returned to my car in a little over a half hour.
My car was gone, I mean really gone, I didn’t misplace it. Someone took it.
I called 911 to say my car was stolen. No, the police had it towed.
I asked the police trooper why it was towed and she said it was on a dangerous inside curve and on a traveled lane.
It was on the outside of the curve and in an untraveled part of the very wide dirt road, not on the traveled part.
It was highly visible in both directions to all three cars per hour that go by that area.
The tow ticket said the police wanted it towed since it was “abandoned.” I was there not much more than a half hour. I have hiked trails for much longer than a half hour. How long does it take for police to consider a car to be abandoned?
Talking to a state trooper at the police station on Route 7, I was told that a dirt road is considered one lane since there can be no painted lane markings, and that even though the road is 40 feet wide, there can be no parking since all of the width is considered a “traveled lane.”
Since people park along the road quite often, be warned: Your car might just get towed when you return from a hike, leaving you in the middle of nowhere and hoping someone friendly can help you find your car and go home.
After I got home with the aid of a friendly hiker, I called the police again to find where my car was. The driver for the tow company was out on a trip and would call back in an hour to give better directions.
I found the place, finally, on Route 7 north of Middlebury and had to pay $217, by Visa, since they didn’t take a check.
So, remember, the police can have your car towed and you don’t get your tow money back even if it is proved that the parking was legal.
Remember, don’t park on any part of a very wide dirt road, no matter how little used, or how out of traffic flow the parking area is, as it might get missing, ordered towed by police, even if there is no sign anywhere saying “No Parking,” and the police might call it “abandoned” even if it was there only a half hour.
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