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A few days ago someone parked their car across my driveway. Between my fence and the road there is about 5 meters of land, including a foot path and gutter/runoff ditch. My road extends from my front gate and over a pipe which is meant to preserve the gutter's flow.

This was late at night and the car sat there for well over an hour. Luckily they moved on. However, if they remained there I would have had problems getting out for work, because of how deep this gutter/run off ditch is.

I know that in Australia, if they were on my property I could charge them for trespass. But, the 5 meters of land outside my front fence belongs to the local council, despite the fact I am the one who gets fined if the grass isn't kept short and I have to maintain my driveway.

I am wondering, if a car parked itself in a way in which impeded me being able to leave, regardless if they were on my property or council land (ie. parked on the nature strip but blocking my driveway) could I then call the police to impound the car?

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    You can call the police for anything. Are you asking about statutes, regulations, or customs that determine whether the police should be called in a situation like this, or what duty they may have? Or are you asking whether there are laws that make the obstruction itself an illegal act?
    – feetwet
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:43
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    Generally, in the US, parking codes prohibit blocking driveways, and specify that vehicles blocking driveways can be towed away. This has nothing to do with property rights; it's based in the state's power to regulate the public right of way. Presumably the police can either handle the towing for you or refer you to someone who can. I suppose the situation is similar in Australia.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 19:28
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    You can either call the police, or a towing company. Especially the latter will be able to tell you about the relevant local laws and appreciate the urgency of the matter. I don't know about Australia, but there are countries where towing companies then charge the owner of the towed vehicle while operating deep in the legal grey zone.
    – Peter
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:00
  • In Germany, it also depends on whether the car is parked on public or private property. On private property, the police will not do anything, but you are free to have the car towed - however, at your cost (which you will have to recover by suing). On public property, the police or local authorities can decide to have the car towed, if you can convince them that the car is a significant obstruction - however, authorities have some latitude in deciding whether and when to tow.
    – sleske
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 10:23
  • In most U.S. jurisdictions you would skip the police and just have a tow truck company tow it, and they'd have to go to the tow truck company to get their car back.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 17 at 17:19

1 Answer 1

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Generally, you can't tow someone else's car without their permission.

You could contact the police, but as they're not actually committing a crime (unless the road has no parking/stopping signposts), it's unlikely that the police would take any action.

However, in most states, the Road Rules (or equivalent) penalise drivers for obstructing access to driveways, for example New South Wales: Road Rules

A driver must not stop on a road in a position that obstructs access by vehicles or pedestrians to or from a footpath ramp or a similar way of access to a footpath, or a bicycle path or passageway unless ...

A police officer (or usually even a council officer) may issue an infringement notice. However, someone parked across your driveway is unlikely to be a priority for them.

I was unable to find any law empowering the police to tow away vehicles merely because they obstruct access to a driveway.

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    I don't know about Australia, but certainly many other jurisdictions do have laws authorizing the police to tow vehicles which block driveways. Here's San Francisco, for instance, and I can say from experience that it is aggressively enforced. Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 16:09
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    The City of Melbourne specifically mentions cars blocking a driveway: "Obstructing an access way - A vehicle is considered to be ‘obstructing’ if it is parked in an area such as a driveway or laneway and is preventing vehicle access." (Towed and impounded vehicles) Obstructing vehicles will be fined, and towed if the driver cannot be located. So in Melbourne you'd have to contact the City, not the police. And the fees really hurt ($361 flat fee + $17.60 per day).
    – sleske
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 10:29
  • @jimsug: Do you mind if I edit the part about Melbourne into your answer?
    – sleske
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 10:35
  • "I was unable to find any law empowering the police to tow away vehicles merely because they obstruct access to a driveway." - Maybe the vehicle could be towed if it was disabled. It would be a shame if the gas tank started leaking or someone slashed the tires...
    – jww
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 10:42

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