With luck they'll be there for a minute or two - or a day tops - but spare a thought for Sydney resident Katrina Gulabovski, who found a car parked across her inner-city driveway for a week in late 2016 while its owner took a holiday to Bali. Ms Gulabovski rang the council, and the police, but it still took seven days for the car to be moved.
"The police and council were buck passing this issue and all we wanted was to get the car out of the way," Ms Gulabovski told her local paper, the Inner West Courier.
"I spoke to the police from Newtown and they said it was the council's job to get the car moved. Then I rang the council and they said they couldn't move it, it was a police responsibility.
"It was ridiculous and frustrating."
"If someone does it to you, what are your options?"
So to prevent this kind of thing happening, we present to you a crystal-clear guide to the rules of neighbourhood parking, including how close can you park to a corner, how close can you park to a driveway and what to do if you find a car blocking your driveway. And no, it's not set it on fire.
While parking across driveways should be one of those thing guided by a combination of common sense and a faith in humanity, there are actually residential parking rules and specific driveway regulations in place in each and every state and territory in Australia.
Parking near an intersection
While the rules can vary slightly, the general rule is that you can't park within 20 metres of an intersection with a traffic light, and within 10 metres of an intersection without lights. But for a more detailed breakdown of parking rules, please see our state-by-state breakdown of parking regulations.
Parking across a driveway laws
In NSW, for example, you can’t park "on or across a driveway", though you can pause there for two minutes if you're picking up or dropping off passengers. And it's the same in Victoria, while in South Australia, the legislation specifies the legal parking distance from a driveway is 1.8 metres of the "approach or departure side of such an entrance, exit, laneway, driveway, crossing place or other vehicular pathway."
In Western Australia, the wording is slightly different: "A driver shall not stop a vehicle so that any portion of the vehicle is in front of a path, in a position that obstructs access by vehicles or pedestrians to or from that path", meaning so long as no part of your car is jutting out in front of the driveway, then you're a-ok. And its a virtually identical rule in Queensland, while in Tasmania the rule reads: "You must not stop on or across your own or another person's driveway, or so close to the driveway that you obstruct a vehicle from driving in or out." Finally, in the Northern Territory, the rule reads: "Vehicles parking on footpaths or blocking driveways or parked on yellow edged lines will incur infringement notices."
All of which is a very technical way of saying that you can't - and really shouldn't - be obstructing driveways and stopping people getting into their own homes. Which, when you think about it, makes sense. But if someone does it to you, what are your options?
Well for a start, most councils have an online form or contact number to report illegal parking and will send the rangers accordingly. This author once received a fine for parking across his own driveway in inner-city Sydney because a good samaritan complained, so we can confirm that strategy's effectiveness. Beyond a fine, though, there's a something of a grey area, with most councils unwilling to immediately tow a vehicle.
In Ms Gulabovski's case, it took council officers a week to stick a notice on the car's windscreen advising the vehicle would be towed. But persistence, eventually, paid off.
Which makes us think life would be whole lot easier if we all just stopped parking in driveways altogether.
This article originally appeared on CarsGuide.