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What are the Different Types of Illegal Parking?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MyLawQuestions researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1006863 — On May 30, 2022

How long should someone be able to park in an "illegal" spot before getting a ticket? 60 seconds? 90 seconds? More? Less?

By Animandel — On May 28, 2014

I consider myself a calm person and I am not going to get upset about parking one way or the other in most cases. However, what really gets me upset is someone who uses spots designated for people with physical challenges when this someone is perfectly healthy.

I have seen some people go as far as to borrow a friend's or family member's physically-challenged parking sign so they can park and not get a parking citation. This really angers me, and I think when these people get caught they should be punished severely.

By Feryll — On May 28, 2014

Everybody complains about parking tickets, but we do have laws regarding parking violations for a reason. Many illegal parking tickets could be avoided if people were simply more observant, as this article alludes to. Really, why would you park vertically when the lines clearly indicate you are supposed to park horizontally and the other way around?

And if you see that you are going to be parked longer than you expected then go back out and feed the meter or go out and move your car to another space, whichever scenario applies. Either way, don't blame the parking enforcement officers. They are simply doing their jobs, and everyone has to abide by the laws. They are not arbitrary.

By Laotionne — On May 27, 2014

I parked on the street in a small town the other week. There were about 20 parking spaces along the street and there were half of a dozen cars parked on the street, including my car. The parking was marked for one hour, and I didn't plan on being inside the building more than 30 minutes, so I thought I would have plenty of time.

Wouldn't you know it, I got held up inside and when I came out there was a ticket on my car. I couldn't believe it. I was maybe five minutes late and there were fewer cars parked on the street when I came out than when I went inside. It doesn't make sense.

I am all for limiting parking and parking enforcement so everyone has a chance to use the allotted spaces, but why should I get a ticket when there were so many other spaces available?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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