Ask LH: Can The Police Book People From My Driveway?

Dear Lifehacker, Are police legally allowed to park in a private driveway with a radar gun in order to catch speeding motorists? I live near a speeding hotspot and while I have no issue with the police catching hoons near my house, they regularly park in the entrance of the mews to the group of apartments where I live, and I can't drive into the complex until they move! The mews itself is private property managed by a body corporate and not a through road. Can I legally tell them to move on or should I just deal with it? Cheers, Occupied Driveway!

Police car picture from Shutterstock

Dear OD,

Generally speaking, police can only enter a private property without permission if they suspect a crime has taken place or is about to be committed. (I'm no legal expert, but I suspect a potential speeding offence on the adjoining road doesn't fall into this category.)

In most other cases, they are subject to the same trespassing laws as the rest of us; although unlike with regular citizens, the consent can be "implied". That said, they may have been granted permission from your landlord to park on the property in which case they have every right to be there.

Blocking the entrance to your apartment is a separate legal issue, however. In each state, it is an offence to park a vehicle in such a position as to obstruct traffic or unreasonably cause inconvenience, which includes blocking driveways. Absent an actual emergency, the same rules applies to police vehicles.

Mind you, reporting them to (other) police is likely to get you nowhere and making demands based on your legal rights probably won't do you any favours either. A better approach would be to politely ask if they can move, as you need to park and they are blocking access. Just as with any other driver, it's usually better to be civil — take the approach of "I need to do something", rather than "you guys are breaking the law".

If the police officers are remotely reasonable people, they should comply with your request. (On the plus side, it sounds like your apartment complex should be pretty safe from burglary with the cops parked right outside!)

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Common sense fail. Why the hell would these cops park in a private driveway, especially if it's the entrance to a group of apartments. Surely there'd be multiple residents driving in and out? Is everyone supposed to just stay home or be blocked out of their own home while the cops are sitting there? At the very least shouldn't they notify the residents beforehand? I know if I was wanting to leave my house and I found a cop car just sitting in my driveway I'd be firmly telling them to move (unless there was an actual emergency).

    I would be more concerned with them on a matter of safety blocking the entry and exit. With most of those types of high density living areas the drive way is also the gathering point incase of fire etc. The tend to also have a fire reel or hose near that point.

      You think the cop car will remain there blocking a driveway while the building burns ? Riiight.

    No, that patrol is pretending to radar while waiting for their drug mule in the building, cause they are missing 1 keys from their last deal, only approach them if you know the mules location and willing to snitch or need a fix

    I think if you continue to be polite and ask them to move every time, it might get annoying for them and they might stop parking there...

    Soooo... just to clarify, what you are saying is that yes, they are probably breaking the law, but since they are cops they get away with it and the best you can do is ask nicely? I'd be calling teh cops and saying there is a car regually parking illegally on private property and watch what happens when another partrol car turns up, would be midly amusing at least.

      Uh, more likely they'll call the closest car (the one already in your driveway).

        Not really, if the parked car is booked on a job, they will scroll through the computer and find one that isn't booked. They only call for nearby units if immediate attention is required, i.e: armed robbery.

        Yes, the parked car might hear it on the radio, but when they keep getting chastised about parking there, the bosses might start to get a bit annoyed.

          "There are men with guns parked in my driveway, I'm scared! Please send someone!"

    Police can be quite arrogant though. Around my area in Melbourne, they regularly park in an entrance to a T junction with a radar gun in a speeding hotspot. That certainly isn't legal.
    Also one of my local arterials recently was reduced from 70 to 60. (It's dual carriageway with no houses, just side streets coming off of it, but VicRoads latest crusade is to get rid of 70 and 90 zones to supposedly reduce confusion.) So now everyone crawls down a large stretch of wrongly artificially imposed slow road, and the police farm speeders. However, they park in a turning lane in the middle of the road to do it!

    On the other hand, the majority of police are great :)

      Dude, you live Victoria! Of course you'll get screwed by the cops!

    Yeah it sounds like you are saying it IS illegal but they are cops so stiff shit?
    Call the federal police or terrorist hotline (1800 1234 00) claiming there is a strange car parked in the driveway and you believe the men may have guns and are pointing them randomly at drivers!

    One night around 1am in the morning, the cops parked blocking our driveway with their lights on playing with their computer. There's 3 car spots on the nature strip it could have stopped at the the left, and another three on the right.

    But that's not really an inconvenience as in 3 years of living there, there has been 3 car crashes out the front, one that almost blocked me in when I had to leave (and the rest of the road). Needed to stop traffic so I could reverse out around it to get out. Lucky there were heaps of people on the street to stop the traffic for me.

    The portion of a driveway or private street that is between the public street and the edge of the nature strip is still public property, even though it's the nearby property owner's responsibility to maintain. If the police are parking in that part of the lane, there's nothing illegal going on.

    This is a good PDF from QLD.
    "It is not illegal to park a vehicle on-street
    up to the edge of a driveway. It is only
    illegal for a driver to park their vehicle
    across any portion of the driveway entry,
    or in such a way that prevents reasonable
    access to or from the property."

    Perhaps more relevant to the rest of us... is it legal to block your own driveway? If I visit a mate's house, can I park across his driveway? (Ie in the street, assuming parking is legal on the street elsewhere) How do the cops know who is parked legally and illegally in this case?

      The street, nature strip and driveway up to the property boundary itself is public land, so it's covered by public laws, rather than private permission. Your mate can give you permission to park on his property, but he can't give you permission to park across the driveway because that's not his land.

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