Oil City police step up ‘dead storage vehicle’ enforcement

From staff reports

The Oil City Police Department is reminding city residents that if they have a “dead storage vehicle,” a label given to vehicles that are non-driveable, have an expired or suspended license plate, expired inspection sticker or an unreadable VIN number and is parked on a city street, there is trouble brewing.

Police chief Bob Wenner said his department recently checked out complaints about dead storage vehicles in the 300 block of Butternut Alley and on Warren Street between Cornplanter Avenue and Gay Street. Three of the vehicles were tagged for removal with the owners given 48 hours to move them.

The offenses prompted Wenner to explain the city has two rules – the state Vehicle Code and the city’s parking ordinance – that address dead storage vehicles. It does not apply to vehicles parked on private, off-street property.

The enforcement of those two measures means an owner will have a vehicle tagged with a bright pink notice on the windshield. The tagged vehicle must be removed within 48 hours or city police officers will return and have the vehicle towed at the owner’s expense.

There’s another step, too, in the enforcement process.

If the vehicle is not insured, has a license plate that is expired more than 90 days, the VIN number can’t be deciphered and there is no displayed registration plate, it is subject to immediate removal. Again, the owner will pay the towing cost.

There is a hefty cost involved, too.

A fine could range from $500 to $1,000, depending upon the number of violations by the owner. Towing and storage costs could add up to a big tally with $110 for towing and $35 a day storage fee.

“For example, under a first offense scenario, a violating owner could face a minimum of their vehicle being removed, $645 in fines and towing fees and additional court-related expenses,” said Wenner.

City police officers will step up enforcement in the upcoming months because of weather-related issues that affect parking. Police will be working in conjunction with public works and street department staffers during fall leaf pick-ups and snow removal to remove abandoned vehicles.

“These efforts are directed at maximizing the already limited on-street parking in neighborhoods and removal of unsafe and unsightly vehicles,” said the police chief, adding residents who are aware of abandoned vehicles in their neighborhoods should contact his department at (814) 678-3080.

Wenner added, “If your vehicle is roadworthy, has a valid license plate, inspection and current insurance, you have no concerns.”