What Is Considered Blocking A Driveway? (Find Out Now!)
You try to be a cordial and polite neighbor, but it’s hard when your driveway is constantly being blocked. This type of inconsideration is the foundation for most neighborhood disputes. You may wonder if you are being overly concerned with the matter, and perhaps your neighbor is not in the wrong. So, what, exactly, is considered a blocked driveway?
It is considered blocking a driveway if you restrict access to it either partially or entirely because it can disrupt emergency services. Blocking a driveway is illegal in every state, county, and city, and you will receive a fine for it. A homeowner can call the police non-emergency line or a towing company if you block their driveway.
You cannot even block your own driveway, and the police will still fine you. The laws exist so that emergency vehicles can easily access a home whenever necessary. Let’s take a closer look at the issues of blocking a driveway and how to manage those frustrating times when your driveway is blocked.
What Constitutes a Driveway?
Under the law, a driveway is defined as a vehicle path that connects a road to a public or private parking area, such as a garage or parking spaces in front of your home or business. A vehicle path that connects two parking areas is also considered a driveway under the law. Aisles in parking lots are not considered driveways.
What is Considered Blocking a Driveway?
It is considered blocking a driveway if you a vehicle or person is in the way of the “curb cuts”. A driveway is typically anywhere in the gap between where the curb starts and ends. States and municipalities have unique definitions for blocking a driveway, but there is very little variation.
Blocking a driveway is typically a cut-and-dry situation that is difficult to argue. You are blocking a driveway if a person or vehicle cannot reasonably get out. It is common for neighbors to have disputes about blocking a driveway, but there is little grey area.
Either the driveway is obstructed or you can get past, at least in the eyes of the law. Many areas and homeowners alike consider it a blockage if even the front bumper from a car blocks their driveway. However, you cannot tow somebody’s car unless the driveway is fully blocked or the car is on the sidewalk.
Parking, Stopping and Standing
Parking a car means putting the vehicle in park and exiting the vehicle. Stopping a vehicle means that you put the car in gear but that it’s not moving. A vehicle is standing when it is temporarily stopped while you load and unload people or items from the vehicle. None of these activities are allowed if you block a driveway in the process.
It is common for a car to briefly stop in front of a driveway, and in many cases that can block your car. Delivery professionals often have to park in front of houses for a minute or two at a time. However, nobody is allowed to block your driveway even if it is only for a few moments.
Companies typically tell their drivers that they cannot block driveways or park in them. That doesn’t always get through, and individual drivers are ultimately responsible for their actions. You can politely inform the driver that they are not legally allowed to block your driveway.
Is Blocking a Driveway Illegal?
It is illegal to block a driveway in every city, state, and municipality. There is little to no variation in law about blocking a driveway, and the penalty is generally the same. You can either receive a fine, have your car towed, or both if you block a driveway.
The homeowner can call a police non-emergency line or a towing company if a car blocks their driveway. You don’t need to provide a written or verbal warning since it is illegal to block a driveway no matter what. However, it doesn’t hurt to speak to the person first to see how long they are going to block your driveway.
That doesn’t mean that they are in the right to block your driveway, but maybe it is temporary. It is rightfully against the law because blocking a driveway can be dangerous and disrupt traffic. You can get in more trouble if your car blocks someone’s driveway and the street because it adds another traffic violation.
What if I Have Permission?
You cannot block a driveway even if you have permission because it can disrupt emergency services. An ambulance, police vehicle, or fire truck cannot enter the driveway if it is blocked. It is illegal even if the homeowner says that it is okay for you to block the driveway.
However, it is common for people to get permission to block a driveway briefly to drop something off or move furniture. This is still against the law, but it is common practice when people move or deliver large packages. The law is the same no matter what the scenario is because a blockage won’t allow emergency services to access someone in need.
Can I Block My Own Driveway?
It is illegal to block your own driveway and you may receive a fine if you do. Someone may tow your car without your knowledge if it blocks your driveway, and they are legally right to do so. You will still receive a fine even if you prove that it is your car because you still violated traffic laws by blocking emergency services.
Speak to your neighbors or HOA if you need to temporarily block your driveway. This is a good idea if you have to move large items in or out of your house. That way, everyone will know that you will be as quick as possible and they won’t call the police to tow your car.
Someone is Blocking My Driveway
Call the police non-emergency line if someone is blocking your driveway. There is no reason to call the main 911 line because the dispatchers are equipped to handle emergencies. However, blocking a driveway can be an emergency in some cases, and you should call 911 right away if you have a medical problem.
You could call a towing company yourself, but it is better to go through law enforcement. Police departments generally work with the same towing company consistently and have good communication. This is also ideal because the police will be able to fine the offender and hopefully dissuade them from doing it again.
When is it Okay to Block a Driveway?
Under most traffic laws, blocking a driveway is OK under the following circumstances:
- To avoid collisions and other traffic flow issues with other vehicles
- When required to pull over by a law enforcement official
- When you block a driveway while complying with a traffic control device, such as a stop light
- To make room for emergency vehicles to pass
What to Do If You Need to Block Someone’s Driveway
If you need to block someone’s driveway, check with your neighbor and law enforcement. Be courteous and considerate. Law enforcement will advise you about specific laws for parking, but it is not a guarantee that you won’t be ticketed or towed. If a situation arises where emergency vehicles or other vehicles cannot access roadways or properties while you are blocking a driveway, your vehicle may be ticketed or towed.
If the owner of the property does not agree to having you block the driveway, avoid any debate or argument. Find other ways to conduct your business.
Parking for Guests
Spending time with friends and family is important, especially during the holidays and special occasions. If you don’t have enough space in front of your home for guest parking, plan for off-site parking. Rather than parking along the street and potentially blocking driveways, make arrangements for a shuttle service from a nearby public parking area. Ask guests to carpool to limit the number of vehicles.
How do I prevent someone from blocking my driveway?
No parking signs, security cameras, and fences do wonders for preventing people from blocking your driveway.
Is blocking a driveway considered trespassing?
If the person parks on a public street, it is not considered trespassing. If the vehicle is parked within your property line, it is considered trespassing.
Blocked driveways are one of the most common complaints in a neighborhood. Blocking a driveway involves stopping, parking, and standing in a vehicle. A vehicle is considered blocking a driveway if it interferes with other vehicles using an access path from the street to a parking area. Driveways are also defined as vehicle paths between two parking areas.
You can ask the property owner for permission to block the driveway, but law enforcement and homeowner’s associations still have the right to ticket or tow your vehicle.
Blocking a driveway is legal under certain circumstances. You can temporarily block a driveway to avoid collisions, pull over for law enforcement, abide by traffic control devices, and allow an emergency vehicle to pass.
Jennifer L. Eggerton loves being hands-on, whether it's with a home DIY project, making repairs, re-decorating a room, or keeping life organized. She enjoys helping people by sharing her knowledge, insights, and experiences, as well as her lessons learned. In addition to her work as a writer, Jennifer is a Jeep® overlander, self-published author, and nature photographer who loves being outdoors.
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