Cars blocking driveways is more than just a nuisance. It’s illegal.
In most states, a car blocking a public or private driveway may be towed, with a ticket issued to the owner. When someone blocks your driveway, the matter can be reported to local parking enforcement or a non-emergency police department.
When reporting a vehicle, you’ll need to ensure you contact the right department and that information about the car is onhand. This includes the license plate number, vehicle make, and precise location.
Read on to learn how to deal with cars blocking driveways, and what to do when someone blocks your driveway.
Is It Illegal to Block a Driveway?
It’s illegal to block a driveway in the US and elsewhere. There are reasonable exceptions to this, primarily for emergency service vehicles, which are allowed by law to temporarily block a driveway.
An obstructed driveway is a public safety issue. When a driveway is blocked, it can disrupt a fire truck, ambulance, or police car from being able to enter a space. It is also a disruption to the person who owns the driveway.
Despite it being illegal to block someone’s driveway, removing the vehicle may not be a priority for local police departments, especially if they are busy. However, once reported, parking enforcement should issue a ticket to the vehicle owner and tow it off the premises.
When a car is blocking a driveway you own, it is sometimes best to address it directly with the owner of the vehicle before reporting. This can resolve the issue faster than reporting it to local parking enforcement.
Contacting the vehicle owner directly can be the fastest way to get the issue resolved and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Have the conversation in person or leave a note on the windscreen. If you know who the owner of the vehicle is, you can:
1. Politely notify them that the driveway is in frequent use and therefore cannot be blocked
2. Ask them to remove the vehicle
3. If necessary, notify them that, if the driveway is blocked again, it will be reported to local parking enforcement for towing. If you don’t know who owns the vehicle, leave a note on the windscreen informing them of the above.
Can I Tow a Car Blocking My Driveway?
Every state has different regulations, but if the owner of a car blocking your driveway doesn’t move the car after being notified, or the vehicle needs to be moved immediately and the owner is unknown, it should be reported.
In California and New York, it’s possible to arrange for a car blocking your driveway to be towed and the owner must pick up the expense.
However, in some states, the owner will only have to pick up the costs if they are proved to be breaking the law, meaning you could be liable to fund the costs of the tow.
If you’re unsure how to deal with a car blocking your driveway, contact your local parking enforcement department (links below) to inquire.
Someone blocking a driveway is a public safety issue and should be addressed as such, particularly if it hasn’t been moved in a long time or if the owner is a repeat offender.
Here’s how to report a car blocking a driveway:
1. Find your local parking enforcement contact information
2. Enter the location and registration plate of the vehicle
3. Provide your contact information
4. Provide any additional information requested, like a clear picture of the vehicle blocking the driveway
Once the claim is received, the local department will ensure the vehicle is towed and a ticket is issued to the owner.
Who to Report a Car Blocking a Driveway To
Parking Enforcement is known to be prompt, with DOT/LAPD officers often arriving in less than an hour. You don’t need to actually be there when they arrive for a ticket to be issued, but you would need to be present to get a car towed to show it is your driveway that is being blocked.
You are, however, required to notify the SFPD one hour before towing, and the towing company must then also notify the SFPD within 30 minutes of the car being towed.
In New York, a vehicle blocking a driveway cannot be towed without first being ticketed by the police. Again, in this scenario, they should be alerted through the non-emergency number 311.
Similarly, the number to go to in Houston is 311, after which parking enforcement will arrive to dish out a ticket, and the vehicle can then be privately towed.
Vehicles are fully photographed and time stamped before towing, and all tows are immediately called into the police towline, with the offender also being notified of the location of their vehicle.
Reporting an abandoned vehicle or a car blocking a driveway in San Diego can be done via telephone or online. You can report a vehicle blocking your own driveway to a public driveway.
In Oakland, reported vehicles will either be issued an immediate ticket, towed away, or given a written courtesy warning via a sticker placed on the windshield. If the car is blocking your driveway and you can’t get your car out, the vehicle will be towed rather than given a warning.
Reporting a car blocking a driveway in Oakland should be done via the phone if it needs immediate removal. Call the non-emergency police department on (510) 777-3333.
3 Ways to Prevent Cars From Blocking a Driveway
While the authorities will be on your side in these situations, preventative measures are needed to avoid the nuisance in the first place. This is where security cameras really shine.
Along with preventing theft and vandalism, they are an invaluable tool in preventing or dealing with pesky driveway blockers.
Here are three ways to prevent cars from blocking a driveway you own.
1. Home Security Cameras
24/7 video surveillance lets you keep an eye on your driveway at all times from anywhere, meaning you can start taking steps to deal with a blocked driveway before you even get back home.
Situations can sometimes escalate. Footage is invaluable if the situation ends up in court or if an insurance claim is made. AlfredCamera is fast, flexible, and affordable, making it the perfect solution for driveway monitoring.
2. Add Signage Outside the Property
A simple note on the garage or on the fence next to your driveway stating “No Parking” or “Driveway in Constant Use” can deter cars from blocking a driveway. Signage can be purchased for between $10-$20 from most supermarkets.
3. Install Parking Bollards
Adding parking bollards is another way of ensuring people don’t park on or across your driveway. These retractable bollards can be built into driveways or installed over the top of an existing paved area. Plus, they can also provide additional security and prevent theft of cars on driveways.
How do I complain about a blocked driveway?
Calling the non-emergency number 311 will be your easiest route to lodging a formal complaint about a blocked driveway.
Is it an offense to block someone’s driveway?
Yes, it is illegal to block someone’s driveway with very few exceptions. Anyone caught doing so is liable to a parking ticket and having their vehicle towed.
What can you do when somebody blocks your driveway?
When someone blocks the driveway, it’s possible to try and alert the offender and request they move their vehicle and refrain from doing so again in the future. If this isn’t possible or seems to be a safety risk, get in touch with parking enforcement services so they can give out a ticket and tow the vehicle.
Can you tow a car blocking your driveway in California?
Driveways of commercial properties have different rules. Cars blocking a private business driveway can only be towed if there is a clear sign stating that vehicles parked in the area will be towed. If no sign is present, commercial driveways must be blocked for more than 24 hours before a tow can be arranged.
Is it illegal to block driveways in Texas?
Cars blocking driveways in the US is both an inconvenience and an illegal offense. How to handle a car blocking your driveway depends on the state you live in. Some areas enable you to immediately book a tow (that the owner must fund the costs of), while other states require you to wait a certain period before reporting the issue and/or arranging the car to be towed (like 24 hours).