Tag Archives: private property

Old inquiry about signs in a parking lot gets an answer

The in basket: I just stumbled across the following inquiry from Jim Fairbank of Silverdale, sent by e-mail in December of 2009.

“I just spent some time driving in the most dangerous place in the state: The Kitsap Mall parking lot,” he said. “I have never seen so many idiots that do not know what traffic regulatory signs are. Mostly stop signs, but also yield and speed limit.

“I wonder if these dummies figure that being on private property the signs have no meaning. Is that true or do they have the same requirements as the similar ones on city streets?

The out basket: I’ve answered this one before, but find no evidence that I replied to Jim. The traffic control signs on private property, such as a mall parking lot, will not support a traffic ticket, but can assign responsibility in a collision, for insurance purposes. Serious offenses like hitting a pedestrian or drunken driving can be prosecuted if they happened on private property, but there are rarely signs forbidding such things.



Cell phone law not enforcable by police on private property

The in basket: Wendy Tweten e-mailed to say she understands that the newly strengthened cell phone law can be enforced on private property, like mall parking lots, unlike the seat belt law and just about any other except handicapped parking regulations.

“It was explained to me that, because of how the (cell phone)law is written,” Wendy said, “it applies to anyone, anywhere (police and emergency crews exempted, of course), who’s in control of a vehicle. The ticketed person in question was, reportedly, driving in a mall parking lot,” she said. It was second hand info from Snohomish County, she added.

The out basket: It’s not true, says State Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton office. Police agencies can’t write tickets on private property for what would be citable on the public streets, including the cell phone and seat belt laws.

“Handicapped parking tickets are the exception because they are non-traffic infractions (parking tickets),” she said. “They are typically issued by the (sheriff’s) Citizens on Patrol.  If the COP’s are not available, often a deputy will be notified.  I cannot think of a time where WSP was asked to respond to a handicapped parking complaint, and WSP does not handle parking lot collisions.”

Running a stop sign or other traffic error can come to bear in deciding fault and liability in a private property collision, but won’t generate a ticket.

Of course, if the private roadway in question is where it meets a public roadway, specific circumstances would determine whether a ticket might be written.

Are shopping center traffic signs enforcable?


The in basket: Mike Wikstrom of Bainbridge Island is short and to the point. “Are traffic signs and pavement indicators on private property enforceable?” he asked. 

The out basket: Not by the police. But they can decide liability in an accident and support criminal charges in a serious accident. Where the private road abuts a public street, such as where shopping center traffic enters a street, it can be debatable, and probably comes down to whether the sign or pavement marking is on public right of way.