Non-EV drivers who block charging bays face fines

Victoria has become the first state to make it an offence to wrongly park in an EV charging bay

ice-ing at EV charger
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The Victorian Government didn’t exactly enamour itself to EV owners this month with its decision to subject electric vehicles to a road tax, but new penalties against drivers of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles who park at EV charging bays should curry it some favour.

The act known as ICE-ing can be terribly frustrating for EV owners seeking to charge their vehicle at a public charging station, especially if there are no nearby alternatives.

EV charging
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From December 2, 2020, anyone who parks a non-electric vehicle in a parking or charging area designated for EVs of Plug-In Hybrids faces a fine of $99, or $330 should the matter be unsuccessfully contested in court.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Ben Carroll last month submitted amendments to the Road Safety Act 1986, including Rule 203BStopping in a parking area for electric vehicles’, which simply states: A driver of a vehicle that is not an electric powered-vehicle must not stop in a parking area for electric powered vehicles.

Note that 203B refers to parking places reserved for EVs, and not charging stations. These are covered in the proposed Rule 203C that similarly states: A driver must not stop in a parking area for the charging of electric-powered vehicles unless – a) the driver’s vehicle is an electric-powered vehicle; and b) the electric-powered vehicle is plugged to an external source of electricity.

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Clause "b)" is an interesting one that recognises a practice where some EV owners think because their car has a socket they can use charging stations to simply park their car even when not plugging in, preventing others from accessing the charger.

The definition of an electric-powered vehicle is ‘powered by one or more electric motors or traction motors, regardless of whether the vehicle is also powered by another form of propulsion; and can be recharged from an external source of electricity – this includes Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles'.

National laws

Other states are expected to follow Victoria’s lead, with the rule changes having been agreed between States and Territories at the national level in November 2019.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) led the process to develop new regulations after observing that Councils and other parking operators were increasingly provided spaces exclusively for use by electric-powered vehicles but had limited ability to enforce their proper use through current road rules.

Signage installation and designating car spots for electric vehicle use will be a matter for councils and or other parking infrastructure managers.

JET Charge CEO Tim Washington (below) welcomed the new rules and told WhichCar that empowering local government to enforce its EV charging strategy is an absolutely crucial step in advancing the transition to low emission vehicles. 

Tim Washington Resized 14 Jpg
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“More than anything, EV drivers need to have confidence that when they turn up at a charging station, and it says it's available, for example on the Chargefox app, that it actually is available," Washington said.

"It's also important that government and corporates get a good return on investment in rolling out charging infrastructure. Every time a non-EV or a non-charging EV parks in front of an EV charging station, it diminishes the investment the site owner has made.”

The NSW government is currently reviewing the November 2019 national amendments with a view to introducing this rule in 2021.

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