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Wicked winter whiteout leads to tow truck blues

By Marissa Stipek
On January 28, 2014

As Oxford transforms into a winter wonderland, the roads become more and more dangerous.

Maintaining availability of an emergency snow route is necessary to ensure safety, but it is leading to more cars being towed.

In Oxford, cars are prohibited to be parked along the emergency snow route in any level of snow emergency. There are three levels of snow emergency, depending on the amount of snow and the potential risk to drivers.

Additionally, even if no official snow emergency is declared, vehicles may not be parked along the emergency routes if there are three or more inches of snow or ice.

Cars that violate this law are subject to towing.

Carstar Auto Body Shop employee Kendra McDaniel said the number of cars towed varies, but is usually around 15 per week. However, during the recent snow emergency, McDaniel estimates 15 cars were towed in one day.

Due to a bad snowfall at the end of finals week, Oxford Police Department (OPD) Chief Robert Holzworth said OPD issued 93 citations and towed 18 vehicles in one day.

"The weather emergency was announced around 5:30 or 6 in the morning, and we did not start towing until about 4 p.m.," Holzworth said. "We want to be reasonable and allow people the time to move their cars."

When people fail to move their cars out of the emergency route in a timely fashion, cars are subject to towing.

McDaniel said Carstar does not go out looking for cars to tow, but waits until they are contacted by the owner or the police call, such as in the case of a
snow emergency.

McDaniel said when a car is impounded, the owner must
pick it up.

"There is a base fee of $100, but it could be more depending on the cost of labor to move the car," McDaniel said. "It really depends on the situation."

Holzworth said the fee for the parking citation is $25, and towing charges can reach up to $200.00. Additionally, if the owner fails to pick their car up right away, there is a daily storage fee of $12.00.

Usually, the owner is able to easily pick up the car. However, certain situations call for
different procedures.

"If there is a police hold, that has to be cleared up," McDaniel said. "For example, if it was taken during a DUI arrest, they need proper documentation for the car to be released."

In conjunction with the worsening weather conditions, another factor contributing to the increased number of cars towed may be lack of knowledge by vehicle owners.

Miami sophomore Isabelle Pascarelli keeps her car in Oxford, and while she said she has seen signs for snow routes, she does not understand exactly what
they mean.

"I have seen the signs but couldn't tell you what streets they are on," Pascarelli said. "I don't know how to avoid them."

She also said the bad weather makes students more likely to park in spots closest to their destination for convenience.

"I think the snow makes people more likely to park in these illegal spots, but that the people
monitoring the spots should be more lenient during the winter," Pascarelli said.

"I'm told this winter will be bad, so there may be more snow emergencies than previous years," Holzworth said.

However, he added that with today's technology, it should be easier for Oxford drivers to stay informed and avoid getting
ticketed and towed.

Snow emergencies are declared over the local news, or drivers can sign up to receive email or text alerts at

"The nixle system is free and takes less than sixty seconds to sign up for," Holzworth said.

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