$343 fine threatens any driver caught stopping here

Parking can be a nightmare in crowded areas, so it only feels natural to seize an opening even if it might risk slightly blocking a driveway or taking up some of the nearby nature strip.

Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless act could end up being a costly error, as it is actually illegal to park or stop anywhere that might block a driveway or footpath.

It’s an all too common act found across towns and cities in Australia and one that can be severely punished in some Australian states. So just how much could it cost you?

Cars parked on pavement. Source: Getty Images
It is illegal to park on footpaths and obstruct access to them. Source: Getty Images

A double dilemma

For those keen to park off the roads near driveways or on the grass, be aware that you are breaking no less than two different rules.

These actions are covered in the Australian Road Rules under Rules 197 and 198 which cover illegal stopping and obstructing pedestrians respectively.

Rule 197 covers a range of different illegal parking areas which includes:

  • Driveways

  • Nature Strips

  • Traffic Islands

  • Public Footpaths and Pavements

These areas are deemed free rights of way so if vehicles are found to be cluttering a particular area by parking there and forcing people to move around, they can be seen as an obstruction under Rule 198.

A mixed bag of penalties

Whilst these laws are adopted by every state in Australia, the penalties for being caught in the act are extremely different with some regions taking a harsher approach than others.

New South Wales is by far the harshest state as they will sanction offenders with both fines and demerit points.

The punishment for breaking these rules is a fine of $348 and two demerit points added to your licence.

Police officer giving a parking fine. Source: Getty Images
Parking illegally in some areas can be punished with both fines and demerit points. Source: Getty Images

Some states have taken a definitive approach to the matter offering set penalties for anyone contravening these rules. These states include:

VIC: Anyone in Victoria who stops in illegal areas or is found obstructing access to pathways will be issued with a fine of $109.

SA: Drivers in South Australia find themselves at risk of a separate fine for each rule. Anyone found parking in illegal areas will receive a fine of $198 whilst those obstructing access to these areas will get a penalty fine of $177.

TAS: In Tasmania, drivers found breaking either Rule 197 or 198 will get a fine of $87 to mull over from the police.

ACT: If you decide to obstruct access or illegally park in certain areas of Canberra, you will be issued with a direct fine of $125.

Surprisingly, some states have a more fluid approach to anyone breaking these rules as they will base fines upon their penalty unit system rather than a fixed amount. These regions include:

QLD: In Queensland, parking illegally on a footpath or obstructing access to one will be punished with a fine equalling ¾ of a penalty unit – currently worth $103.50.

WA: Drivers in Western Australia found breaking either Rule 197 or 198 faces an instant fine of one penalty unit which is currently worth $50.

NT: In the Northern Territory, these offences are punished under the “General Rules” section of road laws meaning drivers will be issued with a fine of one penalty unit that is currently worth $157.

No parking sign.Source: Getty Images
Some states will issue fines based on penalty units rather than a set amount. Source: Getty Images

As you can see, there is an abundance of penalties waiting for anyone who tries to park illegally on pathways and obstruct access to these areas.

So, the next time you are struggling to find a parking spot near the shops, it’s worth thinking twice before trying to sneakily park in a space that sits near a driveway.

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