What Is Double Parking?

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If someone parks in such a way that he blocks traffic, he may be doing what’s called double parking. This type of parking is not only dangerous, but it also causes a major inconvenience to other drivers and can lead to some hefty fines.

If a driver isn’t sure what double parking is and whether she is doing it, she should read the legal guidelines before she attempts to park her vehicle.

What Is Double Parking?

Double parking is not parallel parking, which is parking in a space parallel to the roadside. It’s also not the same as parking in two spaces, which is when a car parks over the line and takes up two spots (or more).

Instead, double parking is when a driver illegally parks next to another car that is properly parked on the street or in a parking stall. This type of parking prevents the driver who has parked properly from leaving his space, and it blocks the flow of traffic. Double parking, which is classified as a traffic violation, is punishable with a fine.

Typically, double parking occurs in highly congested cities like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, where parking spots or rare and/or expensive, and drivers need to find a spot to run a quick errand. Delivery drivers often double park for this reason, but sometimes non-commercial drivers do it, too.

Why Double Parking Is Illegal

Double parking is illegal because the parked vehicle obstructs traffic. Drivers can’t progress down a street because one car is double-parked, and it prevents normal traffic flow. Even if they can go around that car, it still slows down traffic and is dangerous. A driver may be on the road going the normal speed, when suddenly, she sees a car double parked and has to brake. Braking suddenly can easily lead to an accident and/or cause damage to at least one car.

Also, double parking can block in another driver. If a driver who parks correctly has an emergency and needs to pull out immediately, what can he do? Or, perhaps it’s not an emergency, but a driver may need to get somewhere quickly and can’t. To discourage double parking, police issue tickets to drivers, and they must pay a fine.

How Much Is a Double-Parking Fine?

The amount of a double-parking fine amount depends on the city and state in which the driver lives and drives. For example, double parking in New York City can mean a $115 fine, while one in San Francisco may cost the driver $110. If the police decide to tow their vehicle, the driver usually must pay for the cost of a tow truck. That can bring the total cost up hundreds of dollars.

Read More: When to Use Parking Lights

Avoiding Double Parking

Double parking can be avoided. Before heading somewhere, drivers should consider whether parking is available in their destination area. If not, they may want to think about ride sharing or taking public transportation instead. Additionally, drivers can research parking lots in the area and pay for parking.

Another option is to bring a friend along and have the friend circle the block in the car while the driver runs his errand. It’s not a good idea to have a friend double park the car with the hazard lights on, since that’s still illegal. If the police arrive, the friend and the driver may still receive a ticket and fine, depending upon the discretion of officer.


  • Drivers can download parking apps on their cellphones such as SpotHero or ParkingHero to help make finding an open parking spot easier.

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