Illegal parking can include overstaying time limits, parking in a restricted zone without permission, parking in a way that blocks traffic, or failing to park safely and appropriately. Depending on the nation and the violation, consequences for illegal parking may involve fines and towing. In regions where traffic congestion is a significant problem, penalties for illegal parking tend to be stiff, with the goal of making more parking available.
Many parking spaces have time limits, such as 20-minute or two-hour zones. People who park for longer than the allotted time can be fined, as can people who overstay their time at meters without paying. Time limits are meant to improve parking accessibility by creating different parking zones, including loading zones for people running quick errands, longer parking for people who want to stroll around an area, and all-day parking for people commuting to work.
Restricted zones can include accessible parking for disabled drivers, bus lanes, permit-only parking, and so forth. People who park in these areas without displaying appropriate placards or permits on their cars are parking illegally. Some restricted zones prohibit parking in all circumstances; for example, people cannot park next to a fire hydrant, because this would interfere with public safety. Temporary restricted zones may be set up for parade routes and other events, and people cannot park in these zones during the periods of time indicated on the warning signs.
Blocking traffic by leaving a car in the middle of the road, double parking, or undertaking similar maneuvers is also a form of illegal parking. In some regions, parking is disallowed on some roads during certain times of the day to make more lanes available. It is important to read parking signage carefully to get information about when parking in a given location is legal. People parking in these lanes during rush hour could be towed and ticketed.
Other examples of illegal parking include parking against the flow of traffic, failing to park within the lines, and engaging in other unsafe parking maneuvers like parking too far away from the curb. Usually, the vehicle code is specific about how to park safely. No signs explicitly warn drivers against activities like parallel parking in vertical parking spaces, but people will be ticketed on the grounds that they should exercise common sense when parking.
People who want to contest an illegal parking ticket will need to provide documentation. Some potential defenses include confusing or absent signage or proof that the driver was parking legally, such as disabled placards on a car wrongly ticketed for parking in an accessible parking spot.