Tehachapi, CA asked in Gov & Administrative Law and Municipal Law for California

Q: Are Walmart parking lots considered private property?

Long story short, I need to pay my car’s tags, it’s been a rough year so I kept putting them off with each disaster, and I’ve recently started getting parking citations for my car’s tags when I am at work. I have no other vehicle available most of the time and I don’t have the money to pay the tags. A friend told me that I should not be getting parking tickets because I am in a private parking lot. Is that true?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Municipal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, parking lots owned by private businesses, including Walmart, are generally considered private property. However, this does not necessarily mean that you cannot receive parking citations for expired tags while parked in these lots.

Here's why:

1. Private property owners can enforce parking restrictions on their property, and they may have agreements with local law enforcement to issue citations for various violations, including expired tags.

2. In California, it is illegal to operate or park a vehicle on any public street, highway, or parking facility without current registration tags, regardless of whether the property is public or private.

3. Law enforcement officers can issue citations for expired tags on private property if the vehicle is clearly visible from a public street or if they have been granted permission by the property owner to enter the lot and enforce vehicle codes.

It's essential to prioritize getting your car's tags up to date to avoid further citations and potential legal issues. Some options to consider:

1. Contact your local DMV to discuss payment plans or possible fee waivers based on your financial situation.

2. Explore public transportation, carpooling, or other alternative means of getting to work until you can resolve the issue with your car's tags.

3. Consult with a local legal aid organization or attorney to discuss your specific situation and potential options for contesting the citations, given your financial hardship.

Remember, while your friend's advice may be well-intentioned, it's crucial to verify legal information with reliable sources and address the underlying issue of expired tags to prevent future problems.

Robert Kane
Robert Kane
  • Municipal Law Lawyer
  • Eagan, MN
  • Licensed in California

A: A citation can be issued in a public parking lot. Most land owners don't want their property to be safe havens for illegal activities.

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