Is It Legal To Leave Your Car Door Unlocked?

Picture this: you wake up and realise you’re out of milk for your crucial morning coffee. Bugger. You grab your keys, pop into your car, drive down to the shops, jump out of your car without locking it and dash in to get your glorious carton of milk. Believe it or not, you’ve just broken the law.

Woman with car from Shutterstock

There are a lot of whacky vehicle related laws so I’ll just cut to the chase (see what I did there?) — it is illegal in some states in Australia to leave your car door unlocked when you’re a certain distance away from it. The East cost of Australia is unfortunate enough to be subjected to this rule.

In NSW, under Road Rules 2014 – regulation 213, section five:

“If the driver will be over 3 metres from the closet part of the vehicle and there is no-one left in the vehicle, the driver must:

(a) if the windows of the vehicle can be secured, secure the windows immediately before leaving the vehicle, and
(b) if the doors of the vehicle can be locked, lock the doors immediately after leaving the vehicle.

You will notice that even leaving a window open in an unattended car is also illegal, but if it’s open by less than 2cm, then it’s fine.

In Victoria, under Road Safety Road Rules 2009 penalty code 2135, it is illegal to leave “motor vehicle unattended with keys in ignition, motor running, brakes not secured or doors unlocked.” There have been reports of people being fined around $150 for leaving their cars unlocked in the past.

Over in Queensland, under Sectioin 213 Transport Operations (road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009, you will get a $44 on-the-spot fine for not securing your vehicle or removing the key from the ignition before you walk away from it.

While these laws do sound a bit silly, the whole point of them, according to police departments across all three states is to reduce theft. You don’t want to come back from getting some quick groceries only to find someone has stolen your expensive sunglasses from the glove box or worse, your car stolen. While this is a bummer for you, it also ties up police resources on a crime that could have been easily avoided.

So remember folks, if you leave your car, make sure you lock it up. Even if nothing gets stolen you could still end up with a hefty fine.

This story has been updated since its original publication.

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