Laws For Trespassing Over a Driveway

By Malinda Zellman - Updated January 29, 2018
white villa and driveway

Trespassing includes any act of intruding on someone's person or property without the proper permission. Specifics of the law vary from state to state, but generally, intruding on another person's driveway without permission could be an act of trespass, especially if the property has gates and fences or signage indicating "No Trespassing" or "Private Property." You can commit trespass in person or with a vehicle. Once the property owner orders a person off the property, the person and/or their vehicle illegally trespass if they remain.

Enforcing Your Privacy

Trespassing can be enforced when the homeowner make it abundantly clear that neither people nor their vehicles are welcome on the homeowner's driveway without her explicit permission. Fences and gates at the point where your driveway meets the street prevent most people or vehicles from trespassing over the driveway. If gated, it can include a combination lock or card swipe device only allowing access to those with authorization. If fences and gates are not feasible, signs can be erected declaring the driveway as private property or a no trespassing zone. Parking in front of the driveway is another self-help method that blocks illegal access.

There Must be Intent

For a person to be trespassing, some level of intent is required. You cannot enforce the trespass if the trespasser inadvertently drives across the driveway, or believes that he has a legal right to use it. Erecting signage and gates gives a clear indication that the land is private, and the trespasser does not have permission to go in the driveway. The court will also infer knowledge is you explicitly tell the trespasser to get off your property

Law Enforcement Options

Trespassers normally leave the property when asked to do so. But, if the trespasser refuses and insists on standing his ground, call the police. There are criminal trespass laws in most states and the trespasser may be violating them. Take pictures of the trespass and give these to the police along with the plate number. In most jurisdictions, blocking a driveway is an immediate-tow offense. The police have the power to ticket the vehicle and tow it away.

Civil Trespass Laws

Trespass is a civil offense as well as a criminal one. This means that you can sue the trespasser in the civil courts, regardless of whether the trespasser has committed a crime. The remedy for civil trespass is usually damages, so you will have to show that the trespasser has caused property damage or has caused you to suffer some type of financial loss.

Police Trespassing

Assuming good cause, law enforcement may enter the driveway of a property and take the walkway from their vehicle to the front door. If the officer wanders into the side yard or other areas of the property without the property owner's permission or knowledge, or if the officer peers into the window while the unsuspecting residents are inside, the police visit has gone from a non-trespassing situation to one of an unlawful search. Any evidence gathered while conducting an unlawful search cannot become evidence in a court of law. If the police remain on the property after being asked to vacate, the judge considers whether the officer had good reason for remaining on the property before deciding the issue.

About the Author

Malinda Zellman has instructed computer, ESL and GED classes. She is a retired homeschooler and school librarian. She is contributing author for two books, "Games" and "Crafts," by Group Publishing. She has written for print magazines and websites. She holds two BA degrees, business administration and economics, from Rollins College.

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