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Can I legally clamp a car that’s parked on my driveway?

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It’s frustrating when there is a car parked illegally on or in from of your driveway. Chances are it’s either blocking you in or making it extremely difficult for you to get your vehicle out. Is there anything you can do legally?

There are a few things you can do legally to get full access to your driveway back. You also learn that there are some actions you might take that is illegal.

What you can do if a car is illegally parked on your driveway

Social media is full of irate homeowners dealing with cars that don’t belong to them parked on or blocking their driveway. Some of the solutions are humorous, like leaving passive-aggressive notes on the offending car’s windshield. Others go a little further and block the vehicle in. This can give you some satisfaction but it doesn’t solve the problem. There is still a car in your way.

Here are a few steps you can take legally to reclaim your private driveway.

  1. Try talking to the owner of the vehicle. Be polite when you are asking them to stop parking in your driveway. If it’s a neighbor, chances are they will be understanding and the issue will be resolved. If you can’t locate the car’s owner, leave a note warning the driver that the next time they could be towed.
  2. No Parking signs and traffic cones aren’t that expensive. They are also legal to put up on private property. They make a great deterrent for unwelcome parked cars since no one wants to run the risk of being towed. To ensure your sign can legally enforce your no-parking zone it must not be obstructed from view. It should also be at the end of the driveway, while still being on your private property.
  3. Security cameras can be an effective deterrent for unwanted parked cars in your driveway. You can find affordable outdoor security cameras, and it is a great way to have proof that the vehicle is parked illegally. This can be helpful if the police end up being involved or the offending car owner tries to sue for wrongful towing.
  4. You can also call a towing company to remove the vehicle, but there are conditions.
  • If the vehicle is parked on residential property if can be towed immediately, with an officer’s permission.
  • You can also have the vehicle towed without a waiting period if you have signs enforcing your no-parking zone.
  • There will often be a twenty-four hour waiting period if the car is parked on a private, non-residential driveway and there are not any signs or traffic cones in place. This is another reason why signs can be helpful.

Laws regarding towing illegally parked vehicles do differ, so it is a good idea to check with local ordinances before you try to have someone’s car towed.

  1. You can always contact the police if someone is illegally parked on private property or blocking a driveway. The police are the only ones that can ticket and have a vehicle towed if it is on a public street. This even applies if it is completely blocking your driveway. This also means that it is illegal for you to clamp the car. Only the police or towing company has the authority to do this.
  2. Sometimes driveways aren’t always clearly visible and this could explain your problem with illegal parking. Try painting “tow-away zone” in the middle of the bottom section of the driveway. You want to use yellow street paint after you’ve gotten permission from the appropriate city department – generally, it is the city building department.
  3. This isn’t always an option for every homeowner, but it is effective. Some property owners have had success stopping illegal parking by installing a gate at the end of their driveway. It is an expensive option but another advantage is that it can reduce your risk of having your home burglarized. Some home insurance policies even lower rates for houses with gates and security systems.

These are a few steps you can take to legally deal with vehicles that should not be on your property or blocking access to your driveway.

How not to deal with illegally parked cars on your property

It is probably tempting to “ding” the car or do any of the other destructive things you’ve probably seen on social media. However, any damage to the illegally parked car is often the property owner’s financial responsibility. This is another good reason for security cameras, you are covered if the car owner tries to sue you for perceived damages.

Along with not ramming the vehicle with your own or something else, there are a few other things that can get you in legal and/or financial trouble.

  1. Even if the car is on private property, you cannot legally clamp the car. This applies to tow companies until the police have been notified. Only then can a licensed tow truck driver “boot” the illegally parked vehicle.
  2. You cannot push or tow a vehicle off your driveway and leave it in the street. You have just created an obstruction and could be facing a stiff fine.
  3. If the vehicle is blocking your driveway, you cannot box it in. It is tempting to let the other car owner know how it feels, but it can be illegal. You could end up blocking neighbors’ driveways or get a ticket for obstructing the road.

The best thing to do when dealing with unwanted vehicles is to contact the authorities.

A few facts about illegally parked cars

You should always remember that city ordinances differ when it comes to illegally parking on private property. If you aren’t clear on all of them, you want to call the police or traffic enforcement officer. Some legal facts that you want to be clear on include,

  • Vehicles illegally parked on residential property are trespassing, which is a civil offense. Not all police departments immediately get involved. Often an officer comes out to try and find the vehicle’s owner. If they cannot locate the owner, they could agree to have the car towed.
  • Property owners can put traffic cones up at the end of their driveway, but not on the street. Even though it is directly in front of your driveway, it is still a public road that everyone has the right to use. You also can’t “save” parking spots in front of your residence.
  • No matter how long the vehicle has been illegally parked on your property, you do not have the legal right to vandalize it. This is a criminal act and you can be prosecuted. You will also be responsible for any damage you did. Most home insurance policies do not cover knowing acts of vandalism.
  • Do not block an illegally parked in your driveway, if your car will be partially out in the street. You will be the one ticketed for obstructing traffic and creating a road hazard.
  • Contrary to popular belief, there usually isn’t a time limit for how long a vehicle can be parked on the street. Unfortunately, this can apply to one blocking your driveway. However, many law enforcement agencies will allow it to be towed after 24-hours. This can be a lifetime if you need to use your car.

Final thoughts

It would be nice if it was legal to clamp a car that’s parked illegally in your driveway, but it’s not. Only law enforcement can authorize this, and it can take up to 24-hours or longer. In the meantime, you cannot get your car safely out of your driveway.

To avoid the annoyance, take steps to prevent unwelcome cars from parking on or at the end of your driveway. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

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