California property owners regularly encounter situations where other people’s cars block their driveways and prevent them from entering or leaving. For instance, a neighbor’s guest might park their car partially on your driveway because there is no more room on the neighbor’s driveway. Sometimes it could be a car parked entirely on your driveway that has been broken down and abandoned.
What would you do in these types of situations? There are a few moral and legal solutions to solving this problem which depends on the type of property where the driveway is located. Let’s look at some examples below.
When to Tow a Car Blocking Your Driveway
California law gives you the right to tow a car blocking your driveway immediately if it is a residential property. As long as there are no more than four housing units on your residential property, you can call a tow company and have the vehicle removed right away. No waiting period is required.
Of course, you could leave a note on the car for the vehicle’s owner in case they might come back. The message could warn the person that you’ll call the police and have their vehicle towed within 24 hours if they don’t remove it themselves. It is the less aggressive option, especially if the car is not blocking the entire driveway but rather one lane.
On the other hand, private business owners must abide by different rules when cars block their driveways. The only way you could immediately tow a vehicle blocking your commercial driveway is if a warning sign is posted and visible at the entrance. This signage must satisfy specific legal requirements in terms of the language and messaging used.
The signage must warn drivers about the rules of parking their cars on the driveways of restricted areas or during non-business hours and the consequences of doing so. If the motorists break the terms of the clear posted rules, you could have their car impounded legally.
If you don’t have signage posted, you’ll have to wait 24 hours before you can tow their vehicle from your commercial property. So again, you should leave a note on the car windshield to warn the car owner that you’ll call the police if their vehicle isn’t removed within 24 hours.
Is Calling the Police for a blocked driveway is a good idea?
We recommend you contact the police before towing the vehicle to ensure you’re complying with all the state laws. Don’t forget to call the police at some point during this process. The police won’t necessarily come to your property, but they will file a report of the tow in case the owner calls the police looking for their vehicle.
If you don’t call the police initially, the towing company may do the honors for you. Since the towing company is the actual entity removing the car from the property, they are responsible for notifying the police. Instead, the police will be able to tell the owner the name and address of the towing lot where their vehicle is located. That way, the police won’t think the car was stolen when the owner comes around looking for it.
What if someone parks their car entirely on the public street in front of your driveway? Things get tricky here because you technically don’t have the legal right to remove vehicles from public areas on your own, even if the cars block the entrance to your driveway.
Fortunately, one phone call to your local law enforcement agency should resolve this problem. Just let them know that a car is parked on the public street in front of your driveway and blocking your path to exit and leave. The police will respond in these situations by coming to the vehicle to investigate in person.
In most cases, the police will immediately call a towing company to remove the vehicle from the public street. They may attempt to contact the owner if their phone number is on record. However, the likely scenario would be the police calling the towing company and removing it right away from the street.