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
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!)
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