Most Snow Emergency Route Violations on First Day of Blizzard Were in Northwest DC

Within hours of Mayor Muriel Bowser implementing a snow emergency in the District Jan. 22, dozens of tow trucks, both government owned and private contractors, and an army of ticket writers hit the streets to clear the major roads designated as snow emergency routes of parked cars so plows and first-responders could get through.

While the District has all or parts of 111 roads designated as snow emergency routes across the city, the majority of cars towed during the first 24 hours of the storm were on five roads, including four in Northwest.

According to data provided by the mayor’s office, on Jan. 22, the first day the snow emergency was in effect, 39 cars were towed from Wisconsin Avenue NW, more than any other street. H Street NE was the only location outside of Northwest to make the top five streets:

  • Wisconsin Avenue NW: 39 Cars
  • 9th Street NW: 26 cars
  • Connecticut Avenue NW: 20 cars
  • H Street NE: 20 cars
  • U Street NW: 19 cars

Of the 231 cars towed that Friday, 194 were in Northwest, compared to four in Southwest:

  • Northwest: 194 cars
  • Northeast: 27 cars
  • Southeast: 6 cars
  • Southwest: 4 cars

Historically, the majority of the violations come from longer stretches of snow emergency routes in Northwest, such as Wisconsin, Connecticut and Georgia avenues, according to the mayor. Eighty percent of snow emergency citations were in Northwest, and 30 percent were in upper Northwest.

About half the cars towed were impounded by private tow companies. The other half were relocated off of emergency routes by Department of Public Works trucks. Records indicate some of the cars relocated by DPW were moved from one spot on an emergency route to another spot on the same emergency route. At least two cars were relocated to Connecticut Avenue, a major evacuation route.

The data also reveals the majority of cars towed were registered to District drivers.  Ninety-seven cars with D.C. tags were towed compared to 62 Maryland cars and 50 cars from Virginia. Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, California, Kansas and Florida also made the list.

Bowser eventually forgave all the $250 parking tickets issued that Friday.

The mayor’s office also provided News4 with the number of businesses issued fines for not clearing the sidewalks in front of their establishments. This was the first time the District enforced the sidewalk ordinance. Bowser decided not to issue tickets to residents but did enforce the law for businesses. The process involved 25 inspectors from DCRA scouring the District, inspecting hundreds of locations, documenting suspected offenders with photographs and written reports. DCRA referred 88 businesses to DPW, which is tasked with reviewing the referrals and deciding which, if any, businesses are to be issued the $150 fine.

Of the 88 businesses referred to DPW by DCRA, 14 were issued fines. The agencies have not disclosed which business were fined or if more may be issued citations.

D.C. Public Schools was the first school system in the area to resume classes after the snowstorm. According to DCPS, on that first day back, Jan. 27, 70 percent of its students attended classes. Absences were marked as excused.

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