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We've all had that experience of finally finding a parking spot and pulling in, only to see that dreaded sign: "RESERVED." And we've all had that next thought -- what would actually happen if I parked here anyway?
It seems like a risky proposition, so let's see if those reserved parking spots are enforceable.
Public Versus Private
We all know to avoid red curbs and to pay up on parking tickets issued by municipal authorities. But the majority of reserved parking spaces are in private parking garages or otherwise on private property.
And while enforcement of public parking violations is standardized and left up to local officers, enforcement of most reserved parking spaces is left up to the property owner. This can make the consequences, if any, more varied and enforcement more haphazard.
Also, because the reserved spaces are on private property, the property owners are free to place reasonable restrictions on who can park on their property and when. So as a general rule, most reserved parking spots can, and will, be enforced.
Towing the Line
The likeliest scenario for parking in a reserved spot is that you'll get towed. Absent any tow company shenanigans, property owners can tow any illegally parked vehicle from their property.
Some states have begun to institute restrictions on how tow companies can operate. But as long as the tow company adheres to state law, property owners are well within their rights to tow cars out of reserved parking spaces.
So as tempting as that empty space might be, your best bet is probably to avoid falling into that trap, unless you're eager to spend the time and money necessary to retrieve your car from a tow yard.
(And whatever you do, don't park in a space someone else has shoveled the snow out of and reserved, especially if you're from out of town.)