What is Double Parking?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The term “double parking” can be used to refer to a number of different parking techniques, most of which are illegal. In the sense of illegal parking, double parking is both obstructive and extremely irritating, and it is a source of great frustration in many urban areas. In the legal sense, double parking is an efficient way of storing cars in public lots, and it can be used to fit a large number of cars into a very small space, which can be practical in car-heavy regions.

Some people might think double parking is worth the parking ticket.
Some people might think double parking is worth the parking ticket.

Most people think of cars which are illegally parked when they visualize double parking. In the first and often most pernicious sense, double parking refers to parallel parking alongside another car so that all or part of your vehicle is in the street. In addition to blocking the original, legally parked car in, the double parked vehicle will block part of the street and a bicycle lane, if one is present. In highly congested cities, double parking can be a serious problem, since it obstructs traffic.

Double parking is highly frowned upon at businesses and events where high attendance is expected with minimal lot availability.
Double parking is highly frowned upon at businesses and events where high attendance is expected with minimal lot availability.

Delivery drivers often double park, justifying the activity by arguing that they need to move quickly in and out of traffic. In some cities, delivery companies have openly admitted to encouraging their drivers to double park, accepting the resulting traffic tickets as part of the cost of doing businesses. Regular drivers may also double park when they need to run into a business to get something, or if they cannot find parking anywhere else. In either case, the act is not excusable.

The term can also be used to refer to cars which take up multiple parking spaces, thus disrupting the order of a parking lot or street. Since most parking spaces are clearly marked out with lines, it should not be too difficult for drivers to park properly, but some double park out of laziness, or a desire to protect their vehicles from damage. Since other cars will follow suit to be more space efficient, the problem can have a domino effect across a parking lot.

In the legal sense, double parking refers to stuffing a parking lot with cars by packing them close together in a dense grid. When a car in the back of the grid needs to be accessed, a parking attendant moves the cars in the way to get to it. This technique is often used in packed downtown areas, since it it can raise parking revenues by making space for more cars. Some drivers dislike these lots, as they do not want to surrender their keys to parking attendants.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


So just because your car merely touches the line in a multi-parking area means that it is lawful for a towing company to take your car? This is ridiculous and unfair justice. Any company who is out there and cannot find a car to tow, that would be a waste of time and money.

Therefore, they now have an incentive which is created out of the desire to maximize profits to see any car parked where your tire touches the line and tow it with the confidence of the courts backing up their policies.


Same thing happened to my husband. he pulled up alongside a friend's car and had a 30 second conversation with them, then told them he would speak to them later down at the school.

Never got out of the car, still had the engine running and his foot on the brake. And he got hit with a fine for double parking. My husband isn't worried about haven't to pay the fine. He's worried about losing 2 demerit points. I always thought double parking was "taking up" two spaces in a parking lot. Or pulling over and getting out and leaving your vehicle obstructing other cars and bikes. My husband didn't even get out of the car.


This is completely stupid. define double parking is over the line considered double parking? on the line considered double parking? and how are the prices of these tickets come about. what do the law states about double parking and do the law clearly explain what is double parking?


I am from Sydney. I believe parking means you have to be parked and off engine and driver is out of the car. I still had my foot on the brake, the engine was on and I was stopped under one minus to wait for a parking spot.

I was in the car and law enforcement car stopped behind my car, shot a photo and was gone. He didn't even get out to give me a ticket. I got one in the mail for double parking now.

Please help me. What I should do for it"

Am I an offender of this double parking matter? Should I fight it in court or should I pay this ticket?

Thanks in advance for your kindness.


I double parked in a shopping car park. is it illegal?


I recently received a summons for double parking while dropping off my grandchild in front of her school. The officer wrote the summons while she was getting out of my vehicle. Is that illegal?


While the first conception of double parking is clearly the correct understanding, the last one--referring to a car which "takes up" two spaces in a parking lot--is clearly not "double parking" at all. To call this "double parking" is to pollute the common understanding and undermine the well-entrenched meaning the term has enjoyed since the early 20th century.

Does calling a thing by its right name mean anything anymore? Has all the care taken to make conceptual distinctions and collectively agree on the proper application of terms been all for naught?

Think about it. Then stop doing it.

Needlessly proliferating meanings or allowing that because some idiot incorrectly referred to the phenomenon of taking up multiple parking spots as "double parking" is obfuscatory and foolish.

It's OK to tell someone they are using a word incorrectly. They should thank you. You have done the community a service. Communication is the bedrock of civilized society. Start respecting it.


I have recently received a fine for stopping next to parked cars, waiting to take up a parking spot at the kerb. A driver was in her car and I waited for her to pull out. Did you get off the fine after contesting it?


If I broke a mirror on an ilegally, double parked car, who is at fault? It was a car making a food delivery double parked with the blinking parking lights on.I tried to get by but caught the mirror and it broke. No witnesses.


The same thing just happened to me - I thought it was absolutely ridiculous! I believe parking means you have to be parked. I still had my foot on the brake, dropping off a friend - wouldn't that be defined as 'stopping'? We weren't in the car for more than a minute when the meter guy honked at me from behind. He didn't even get out to give me a ticket - I got one in the mail that said he was unable to physically put it on my car. I would love to hear what you found out about that and what happened when you fought it as I am planning on fighting it too.


Can you put the amount of time that constitutes a double parking?

My wife recently got a ticket for supposed Double parking. She had difficulty shifting into first using my car and lost a parking spot. She was not moving for less than a minute and the traffic officer gave here a ticket and refused to listen to my wife..

We are going to fight it. She has two witnesses. Any suggestions are welcome.

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