The owner of a car parked Thursday on Blake Street in Lewiston avoided having it towed during last weekend’s snowstorm. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Last weekend’s storm was a wake-up call for well over 100 Lewiston and Auburn vehicle owners, and police are reminding residents how they can avoid having to pay a towing charge during a parking ban.

“We must keep roads open and accessible, especially during a storm, so public works can de-ice and plow effectively,” Lewiston Police Department Lt. Derrick St. Laurent said. “Being towed can ruin one’s day,  and even though we try to make it an easier process to get your car back, we know that it is inconvenient.  We tried to get out ahead of it, and we were all misinformed with the forecast.”

Auburn Police Department Deputy Chief Tim Cougle said parking limitations for some streets led police and public works crews to open overnight on-street parking years ago. The only exception is when bans are enacted during heavy snowfall. Otherwise, residents would still be limited by a Nov. 1 through April 30 ban.

“The parking ban process, although more work for police and public works staff to manage, is easier and less restrictive for our residents,” Cougle said.

During a ban, Auburn residents and commuters can use any of eight “winter relief” parking lots throughout the city, which are free to the public but require a permit. Vehicles with a permit can park in these lots until midnight on the day a ban expires. If it expires slightly after midnight, owners have until the following midnight to move their vehicle.

Exceptions include Mechanics Row Parking Garage and the Second Street winter relief lot. The Mechanics Row Parking Garage allows relief permits only on the yellow, orange or green spots and vehicles must be removed by 7 a.m. if there is no ban still in effect. The Second Street lot allows relief parking until only two hours after a ban is lifted. Downtown Business District zone parking is exempt from bans between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.


Auburn’s winter relief parking permits can only be obtained from Auburn Police Department at 60 Court St.

Lewiston offers free parking at any of the five municipal garages: Canal Street, Chestnut Street, Lincoln Street, Oak Street and Southern Gateway Garage at 425 Lisbon St. There are also several private-pay lots around the city.

“Lewiston Police Department accommodates businesses that are open during a storm, for example if a vehicle is temporarily parked in front of a grocery store, it won’t get towed,” St. Laurent said.

Officials advise that if your car is towed, the first step to get it back is call the Lewiston/Auburn Emergency Communications Center at 207-784-6421.

St. Laurent said Lewiston tows have two additional steps and two fines to finish the process: visit the Lewiston Police Department at 171 Park St. to pay the emergency parking ban fine and retrieve your car from the towing company.

The emergency parking ban fine is $32 and the towing company’s fee is $150. Towing companies may charge more if your vehicle is stored more than 24 hours and during snow removal. St. Laurent said the towing company and its location will be provided when all outstanding parking tickets for the vehicle are paid.


To see if you have any unpaid tickets, call Lewiston police at 207-513-3139. It is helpful to know your license plate number and the street you were parked on and that towing companies prefer cash, take credit cards for a fee and do not accept checks.

Both police departments said it was not a difficult decision to make good on their respective bans Friday and Saturday since they were well publicized ahead of time. The cities release information via text and email sign-ups, update social media and city websites, and alert local media and businesses with outdoor electric signs.

Lewiston police work additionally with Bates College, have alerts translated in other languages and, if all else fails, residents can look to City Hall’s towers, which will flash at night to signify a winter parking ban is in effect.

St. Laurent and Cougle said police have no love for carrying out tows, and between both cities, there were well over 100.

“It’s really frustrating for us to have to tow cars,” St. Laurent said. ” I mean, it’s not what we sign up to do … (but) this year we kind of decided we’re doing enough” as far as taking every step possible to inform the public.

For more information on Auburn’s winter parking guidelines, visit

For more on Lewiston’s, visit

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