Blocked Driveways and Your Legal Rights
Blocked driveways seem to be causing consternation all over the UK judging by the amount of local newspapers featuring rogue galleries of offending cars.
Imagine the scenario – you’re pressed for time and you need to get to the dentist. If you are late you might miss your appointment but you’ll get charged for it anyway. You’re reversing your car out of the garage and you notice that a strange car is blocking your brand new driveway. There is no one in the vehicle and nobody in sight. So what can you legally do?
Unfortunately, not very much it seems. The law has sometimes been called an ass and it appears in the case of blocked driveways it’s probably true. Here is some advice:
The first thing you can do is call the police. There’s not much they can do unless the offending vehicle is causing an obstruction on the road. The fact it’s blocking your exit or entrance has no relevance. Even if the car is on your driveway, the police will advise you that it’s a civil and not criminal matter. However, if the driver returns to the vehicle the police might have a “word in his/her ear”.
All Is Not Lost – Or Is It?
You can make a claim against the driver of the vehicle citing interference with your “use and enjoyment” of your property. However, you would have to wait for the driver to return and extract their details from them. If you can’t get them, you won’t be able to pursue the matter.
Of course, if the car is actually on your driveway you could find a way to block it in. You are perfectly within your rights to do this since legally it is considered to be trespassing. But make sure you don’t obstruct the road in the process. In this way you can refuse to let the driver leave without giving their details. Matters involving blocked driveways require a certain amount of ingenuity to resolve!
The Law in Respect of Blocked Driveways
Whilst trespassing falls into the category of civil law, the police can’t really help. But they may send someone along to ascertain the identity of the owner and request that they remove their vehicle from your property.
Many homeowners mistakenly believe that they have the legal right to park on the road directly outside their properties. This is a myth. As long as road users are not in contravention of parking restrictions they can park wherever they like on public highways.
In addition a vehicle can be parked in the same space on the public highway, for an indeterminate amount of time. It could be there for 10 minutes or a week, there is no limit. Naturally if you feel the vehicle has been abandoned, you can call the police to investigate. If they agree, they will arrange for the removal of it.
Homeowners often are convinced that they can in some way reserve the parking space on the road at the end of their driveway. Placing traffic cones or other objects on the road may lead to you being prosecuted for obstruction. Your local council may give your permission to do this temporarily for a wedding or funeral.
Whether a vehicle has been parked on the road at the end of your driveway or actually on your driveway, don’t damage it in any way. Vandalism is a criminal offence. Whilst you may be tempted smear grease across the windscreen or put a potato inside the exhaust pipe – DON’T. It’s not worth getting a criminal record even if blocked driveways have frustrated you beyond belief!
If you take the option to block in an offending vehicle parked on your driveway, ensure that you don’t obstruct the road. This is also a criminal offence.
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