Some people believe that you can’t get a traffic ticket in a parking lot, especially if that parking lot is privately owned, such as by a mall or a church. Each state determines their own laws on when moving violations can be cited, but there are certain hard and fast rules that apply to both publicly owned and privately owned parking lots. First, you can certainly get parking tickets, though some people class these as separate from traffic tickets, and you can even have your car towed if you park illegally or in spaces designated for the disabled when you don’t have the appropriate tags.
Second, you can almost always get a traffic ticket in a parking lot, and be cited for other crimes if you are driving intoxicated. You may also get a ticket if you hit another car and try to escape. This is hit and run, or at minimum “leaving the scene of an accident,” and if you cause an accident in a parking lot and leave the scene, you have violated that law.
Usually, most highway patrol officers won’t give you a traffic ticket in a parking lot for failing to signal when you turn, or ignoring a stop sign. Officers don’t tend to sit in parking lots waiting for people to make moving violations. On the other hand, parking lots represent pretty intense driving, where you should drive slowly and safely to avoid hitting other people and cars, and you should be sure to obey stop signs, signal your intent to turn and the like, so that you don’t get hit by someone else. Even if your state does not have specific laws that apply to driving in private lots, it makes good sense to protect yourself and others by obeying the laws set by the private lot.
Some states clearly spell out safe driving practices on private parking lots. Virginia for example has state code that pertains to not allowing “reckless driving” on any “driveway, or premises of a church, school, recreational facility or business property open to the public” and, “on the premises of any industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees.” This definition makes it pretty clear that driving that endangers others will mean you’ll earn a traffic ticket in a parking lot if your driving is noticed.
Not all parking lots are private property. If you commit any kind of moving violation in a publicly owned parking lot, such as a public school or in front of building belonging to the state, these are likely to be treated as moving violations that occur on public roads. In any case, whether laws exist in your state or not that define safe driving in parking lots, keeping the safety of yourself and others at mind when you drive in any parking lot is good sense. Observing the rules of the road, no matter where you drive, will help you avoid the possibility of getting a traffic ticket in a parking lot or anywhere else.