Leaving car snowed in risks hefty fine in Rīga

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In Rīga, if a car is left on the street for a long time and if the snow around it has not been cleared, the owner of the vehicle can be fined up to €350. People are puzzled why police resources are used for such trivialities, Latvian Radio reported on December 19.

“It is not the uncleaned car that can be fined, but the fact that [snow] has not been cleared around the car,” said Rīga Municipal Police spokesman Toms Sadovskis. Such rules have been in place for several years. 

“I see that the municipal police car has stopped outside our building and the policeman is taking photos of my neighbor's car,” said a woman to whom Latvian Radio spoke. Someone had complained that the car had not been cleared of snow in the courtyard. The woman was puzzled about this.

She said: “[A fine applies] if the car has not been cleared for three days, but there's a nuance that I understood from [the police], namely, the police are recording the fact and looking at whether the snow is disturbing the movement of pedestrians or not.”

Riga Municipal Police spokesman Sadovskis noted: “Every winter, of course, roads and sidewalks are being cleaned and if the car is parked for a long time, there is no such moment on any day when it could be cleaned around this car. In some cases, [a fine will not apply] if it is found that, for example, a person has been traveling and cannot move the car within three days."

Traffic expert Oskars Irbītis said that this rule disciplines people. In his view, public space shouldn't be used for long-term parking.

Irbītis said: “We can't leave our car for the winter on the street. If there is a long-term need to leave or if we do not use the car for a long time, there is in any case every possibility of parking in specialized parking areas where this car does not interfere with anyone."

The municipal police go on such calls a few times a season. Sadovskis pointed out that if another municipality department would take over the violation of the rules on stopping and parking, it would make the understaffed police work easier.

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