The California Vehicle Code generally prohibits law enforcement officers from towing and impounding vehicles. But section 22651 of the Vehicle Code outlines circumstances where law enforcement officers are permitted to remove vehicles. Many of these circumstances are understandable, including scenarios where a vehicle is left in the middle of a highway (subsection (b)), or when a vehicle has been reported stolen (subsection (c)).
But for those offended by inconsiderate parking, the most helpful of section 22651's subsections is (d), which allows law enforcement officers to tow a vehicle:
When a vehicle is illegally parked so as to block the entrance to a private driveway and it is impractical to move the vehicle from in front of the driveway to another point on the highway.A skeptical reader might point out that the vehicle needs to be "illegally" parked, so section 22651(d) might not be enough to authorize the towing of vehicles parked in front of driveways. Fortunately, section 22500 of the Vehicle Code provides:
No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a peace officer or official traffic control device, in any of the following places:
. . .People who leave their car alarms running are apparently so irritating that they have their own special section of the Vehicle Code. Section 22651.5 states, in part:
(e) In front of a public or private driveway, except that a bus engaged as a common carrier, schoolbus, or a taxicab may stop to load or unload passengers when authorized by local authorities pursuant to an ordinance.
(a) Any peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, or any regularly employed and salaried employee who is engaged in directing traffic or enforcing parking laws or regulations, may, upon the complaint of any person, remove a vehicle parked within 500 feet of any occupied building of a school, community college, or university during normal hours of operation, or a vehicle parked within a residence or business district, from a highway or from public or private property, if an alarm device or horn has been activated within the vehicle, whether continuously activated or intermittently and repeatedly activated, the peace officer or designated employee is unable to locate the owner of the vehicle within 20 minutes from the time of arrival at the vehicle's location, and the alarm device or horn has not been completely silenced prior to removal.When reading this law, I was at first disappointed, thinking it might only apply to areas around colleges or universities. But the breadth of the statute quickly expands to cover any vehicle parked in a residence or business district, meaning that it would likely apply to most vehicles parked within earshot of people's homes.
People who feel that they can park in obstructive manners and let their car alarms ring into the late hours of the evening should beware of these laws. While law enforcement officers are not required by these laws to remove vehicles, I suspect that it would not be too much trouble to do so, especially if people in the area notify law enforcement.