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Can You Install Spike Strips in Your Driveway?

Real Estate Law concept.  Model of house and a gavel.
By George Khoury, Esq. on May 17, 2019 1:01 PM

Some homeowners can be really finicky about their property, and to a certain extent, it's understandable.

And if you've ever been on Nextdoor or any of the other neighborhood social media apps, you've probably seen someone complaining about how their driveway always gets used as place for cars to turn around. And every now and again, one of those upset people who don't want anyone on their driveway asks about whether it's legal to install spike strips on their driveway to stop it. 

No, No, No, No, Not Even Maybe

In some sense, you can do whatever you want with your private property, but there are always consequences. Some things aren't just bad ideas, they could also be both criminally illegal and expose you to civil liability.  

Imagine for a moment that a child walks onto the driveway, and steps on one of the spikes, or worse, falls. You would be liable, even if there were signs that warned of the spike strips and no trespassing signs. Additionally, every person who used your driveway to turn around would have a civil claim against you for destroying their car's tires.

Additionally, the logic just doesn't make sense. If you don't want people to use your driveway to turn around, why would you want them to get multiple flat tires, then have to leave their car until a flatbed tow-truck arrived? Just put up a gate, or a rope, or a sign, or anything besides spike strips.

Okay, Maybe, If You Have a Gate (But Still, Don't)

If you have a gate that blocks your driveway and your property is fenced, then installing spike strips will pose much less of a liability risk, though the liability will never completely go away. Spike strips are dangerous and could harm your guests, or anyone else who is invited, or allowed, onto your property. If you need more convincing not to install them, just call up your home owners insurance carrier and ask them if it's a good idea, or if it'll raise your rates.

Generally, a person cannot install booby-traps designed to thwart trespassers on their property. Sure, you can put out bear or other animal traps, assuming it's legal to do so in your state, and your property is fenced and has warnings posted about the traps. But if a trespasser gets injured by one of those traps, even if you have a no trespassing sign, you could still potentially be found liable depending on the specific facts of the case.

So while putting out the strips on your property may not technically be illegal (though you should definitely check your state's specific laws and with your insurance carrier), if they ever get used, or someone gets injured, you could be in for some serious legal trouble.

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