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Towing a car during street cleaning

Spring road clearing is underway and the associated worries for motorists. Can a city or municipality charge for towing and parking a forgotten car preventing winter dirt from being cleaned from the roadway?

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Does the motorist have to allow the road to be cleared?

Everyone has a duty to clear their vehicle from the road so that it is clear and can be cleaned by council services. The municipality usually publishes its cleaning schedule on its website in advance and it is also available on the official notice board. You don’t need to check this regularly though, no worries. However, you are specifically obliged to do so on the basis of classic traffic signs which prohibit parking in a particular place on certain dates. You should therefore inspect the place where you park, and especially its surroundings, every few days. If you are going without a car for, say, 14 days, then give the keys to a neighbour.

If you don’t, the owner of the road may then have the obstruction removed, i.e. the car towed away, to clear it.

What are the penalties for a forgotten car?

Years ago, it was common practice for owners of towed cars to pay not only the towing fee but also the parking fee in a “salvage” car park, where they had to pick up the car themselves, as in the case of a normal tow after breaking a stopping order.

This practice has not been possible for several years. At that time, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of a woman from Česká Lípa, who had to pay approximately CZK 130,000 for her towed Škoda 120, which had been detained for two years in a parking lot. The Supreme Court changed the jurisprudence of the lower courts and ruled that municipalities have the right to detain a car only for the period of time when there is a public interest – i.e. for the period of actual cleaning of the road in question. Then they must return the vehicle.

Thus, the owner of the road may not charge the owner of the “forgotten” car for parking, but may demand compensation for the towing itself.

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Tip: In winter, snowy pavements and roads can be a problem for drivers and pedestrians. But who can you turn to if the roads are impassable and you are in danger of breaking your leg on the pavement? The owner of local roads is usually the municipality in which they are located, while the owner of purpose-built roads is often a legal or natural person. Who is responsible for the situation and who will compensate you for any damage? Many people ask themselves these questions every winter. So let’s take a look at what the law has to say. We have written a separate article about it.

Do I have to pay even though I was on vacation?

Above we urge you to be vigilant even if you are on holiday. But iceados can happen and what if the owner doesn’t know about the road cleaning after all? He or she parked long before the mobile signs warning of the cleaning were deployed and ended up in hospital for perhaps 14 days. Does he still have to pay for the towing?

The Constitutional Court dealt with a similar case some time ago. The complainant in that case carefully documented that he was on holiday in Sardinia at the time of the cleaning, where he stayed for a whole month.

The owner of the towed car claimed at the time that he had no prior knowledge of the street cleaning. The relevant signs and notices about the cleaning were only put up by the borough while he was abroad. He was also unaware of the notice on the official board of the relevant Prague 5 municipality.

However, the Constitutional Court ruled in a charming manner. It rejected the constitutional complaint as manifestly unfounded because it was only CZK 1,400 for the towing, which, according to the court, was insignificant. It did not examine the substance of the case at all, so the fee can still be collected for the time being.

Some cities voluntarily refund the towing fee in such cases. However, there must actually be a proven reason why the vehicle owner did not know about the cleaning. It is usually just a holiday or illness or other similar event.

Is there any way to avoid the towing?

Some motorists have recently tried ingenious tricks to avoid any towing. For example, they visibly place a paper cup of fast food coffee on the windscreen, which looks like it will damage the expensive leather seats when the car is handled. However, this trick doesn’t work much anymore. The towing service is not afraid of the risk of compensation. The towing masters won’t spill the coffee, even if it’s really full. The less experienced ones will then make the excuse that it was already there when they arrived.

The only trick that really works is arranging for two drivers to park so closely together that it is impossible to “scoop” either car. However, this is rather impractical.

Tip: The case of a complainant who slipped on the pavement and broke his ankle in 2017 has reached the Constitutional Court. In its ruling, the Constitutional Court stated that if a pedestrian suffered personal injury as a result of an uncleared, icy pavement, the liability of the road owner cannot be excluded with regard to the foreseeability of the situation. Itis indeed necessary to examine to what extent the pedestrian behaved in such a way as to prevent his injury. At the same time, it is not possible to omit an assessment of the extent to which the owner or maintainer of the pavement has complied with his duty to ensure that the road provides safe passage. The Constitutional Court’s ruling is discussed in more detail in a separate article.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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