What to do if an ICE vehicle is blocking you from accessing a charging space.

There have been an increasing number of reports of owners of ICE vehicles maliciously blocking access to Tesla Supercharger spaces.  As an EV owner, you should not have to fight to access a charging space.  ICE vehicle owners expect open access to gas pumps when they need to refuel.  EV owners should not be denied access to refuel simply because they use something other than fossil fuel.

In California, there are 2 vehicle code sections that deal with the situation of a non-EV blocking an EV charging space.  While California Vehicle Code section 22511 defines an EV charging space and allows for non-EVs to be towed when blocking a charging space, the section requires specific signage in order for an offending vehicle to be subject to being towed.  At EV charging stations in California, it is rare to find charging spaces with the required signage that allows an offending vehicle to be towed.  In most cases, towing will not be a legally allowed option.

Every EV owner should know and have available to them the following vehicle code sections.  California Vehicle Code section 22511.1(a) prohibits a vehicle from parking in a designated EV charging space if that vehicle is not charging.  California Vehicle Code section 22511.1(b) prohibits any vehicle from blocking access to a designated EV charging space.

If you should find yourself in a situation that you are blocked from accessing a charging space, your first action should be to attempt to contact the owner of the property where the charger is located.  This may not be a viable option if the charging station in question is located in a shopping center.  In a situation where the property owner cannot be identified or contacted, you should call the local police agency.

If the police respond to your call for assistance, you may have to help the responding officer(s) by providing them with the applicable Vehicle Code sections.  If the offending vehicle is unoccupied, politely request that the vehicle be issued a parking citation.  If the vehicle is occupied, the officer should direct the vehicle owner to move the offending vehicle.

Be prepared to be told that there is nothing the officer can do for you.   In this situation, request the officer’s identifying information and follow up with a formal complaint for failure to act with the police agency.  When calling the local police, you should be prepared for the possibility that the local police will refuse to respond.  Again, try to obtain the identity of the person refusing your assistance request and follow up with a formal complaint with that police agency.

Unfortunately, because of the lack of acceptance of EVs from the majority of our society, the EV owner may find themselves in a position of being a second-class citizen.  If you are confronted by someone who is hostile toward you, the prudent action is to remove yourself from the situation.  Anyone who is hostile to the idea of driving while using clean energy is not someone who will listen to reason.

Should you find yourself being blocked from charging at your intended charging station, you will need to seek an alternate charging location.  Be prepared to look for another charging option.  A good app to have on your smartphone is PlugShare.   This app will provide you with charging options if your primary option is blocked.