Florida can't back in parking law

A friend told my wife that he was given a ticket in Florida because, as people in their company are carefully trained to do, he backed a car into a spot for safety. It was a rental car on a visit, and he didn’t know that because Florida cars don’t have front license plates it’s a $40 violation to back in, hiding the plate.

I’m not sure whether this happened on a street or in a lot, which may make a difference, but all of us were gobsmacked. You can’t do the sensible thing and back into a space in Florida? Is this real, or was the friend just misinterpreting what happened?

Was this in Sarasota?

Could have been. I don’t have more details. You’d think that the rental agency would warn people about this.

I can’t believe one line on that site.

Wait. It’s not OK to carefully back in because of pedestrians but it’s OK to back out into pedestrians?

When you are backing out you are opening up a spot for someone to park so you take the good with the bad.

Sounds like this is something only enforceable in city owned parking. Go ahead and recklessly back in to spots like a maniac as long as its on private property.

Makes sense to me.

There is the danger of literally hitting a pedestrian.

But also , vehicles that back in will tend to back until their tyres hit the kerb/stopper.

Now the rear end of vehicles are very variable in size and overhang… and then there’s tow bars and hunting equipment and all sorts of stuff on the back.

But the front end, well vehicles that nose generally stop when their nose is right at the gutter leaving the footpath (“sidewalk”) clear for pedestrian… well anyway the SUV generally has far less “overhang” at the front than at the back.

Of course, the vehicle that reverses out is going to have more trouble giving way to traffic …
Yes sometimes the rule is reverse parking, so as to have less trouble with jam-ups - where vehicle reversing out can’t move because of congestion, and the congestion can’t clear because the vehicle moving out is stuck (doing a 3 pointer instead of a 1 pointer. Reverse, forward - oops, need to reverse more -oops , can’t reverse enough, oops can’t get back in either !) And anyway making it easier to giveway to the traffic makes it safer in terms of traffic on the road…

Did he back into a curbline space, otherwise known as “parallel parking”? The proper way to do that is to back in. Or did he back into a space in a parking lot? If you back into an angled space, you can foul up traffic, and some people drive the wrong direction down one-laned parking lots because they want to back in, and eff everyone else. I wish they got ticketed.

I don’t know about the license plates-- we don’t have front plates here, and there’s no law against backing into a space (or, if there is, it’s the least-enforced law anywhere).

It looks like it’s not the parking itself that’s a problem, it’s not having a visible license plate. I wonder if it’s this wording inthe statute that they use for it;

Backed in, like against a wall or something means it’s not visible from the rear of the car?

Looks like from other sources, they can also cite you for those decorative license plate holders, if they obscure any of the plate.

There’s not really any debate about back-in, head-out parking being safer.

Why it’s almost always better to back into a space than pull into it head-on.

Because it’s part of modern safety training rather than learned as a basic part of driver’s ed, it seems odd until you get used to it. Once you do the superiority of it becomes obvious. As someone says in that article:

Which most definitely includes idiots on foot who simply assume that you will see them.

This is most obvious in lots that are lined with the axes, rather than angled lots. Angled spaces discourage back-in parking and mean that anyone who does not only holds up traffic but drives out against the traffic flow. That’s the main exception to the logic of back-in. I’ll be curious to see if the pressure for back-in parking by corporations for safety (probably why someone notes in that article that blue collar workers back in but white collar workers don’t - blue collar workers get more safety training) results in fewer angled lots in the future.

I prefer pull-throughs myself. :slight_smile:

A few counter points:

Going past a spot and then reversing into it takes more time than just pulling into the spot. This can be important when a lot of people have to park in a short time.

Backing into a small space is more difficult than backing out of a small space, because nearly all of our turns happen while moving forward, not backward. Also, we spend 100% of our driving time conscious of where the front of our car is, and we are very familiar and comfortable with it. Not so much for the back.

Angled parking lot spaces are not going away. Angled spaces are more efficient, as they require less space for the driving lanes. Also, they encourage people to obey the directional markers in the lanes.

I have a man who does my parking.

I hate people who back in when I am behind them. At the commuter train parking lot during the morning rush there will occasionally be the guy that stops in the middle of the parking lot to back in. Well guess what - they can’t because I’ve now blocked the space because the idiot in front decided to stop traffic to back in. So we wait there. I can’t back up because the person behind me has also had to stop and they can’t take the space because it’s blocked.

1st rule of driving - do what you’re supposed to do and what people expect. (If that’s not a rule it should be).

Wherever I have been (mostly in places around California), the rule has universally been to head in, never back in. This refers specifically to perpendicular parking, not parallel or angled parking. I don’t know if it’s a state law. I do know that vastly many parking lots, public and private, have signs posted stating this rule. I don’t know how zealously enforced it is.

It is, however, state law that private parking lots that are generally publically accessible (like at supermarkets or any other place of commercial business open to the general public, at least), state driving laws apply and are enforceable. I don’t know who, specifically, is in charge of enforcing.

Apartment buildings universally (as far as I’ve ever seen) have this rule written into their rental agreements, along with any number of other equally petty shit. They also enforce that all tenants’ cars must have current registration tags. They contract with towing companies that come in the night and tow away as many cars as they can find with anything wrong, however nit-picky. But there is now a (relatively new, I think) state law that heavily regulates this kind of towing – due, I’m sure, to the accumulated outrage about the extensive predatory towing that used to go on. I always felt sure that landlords were getting kickbacks from the towing companies for this.

I don’t know if they can or do tow cars for parking backwards in their parking spaces. But they sure do threaten it all the time.

I think it’s just so cops can see the license plates on parked cars. Anyone trying to avoid identification or just doesn’t have a license plate would just back into a spot and then the cops have to get out of their cars and walk behind the parked car to check the license plate.

Sure, if nobody else is around, park however you please.

But in a situation where other cars are coming and going, backing into a parking space:

  1. confuses the driver behind the backer because the backer has driven past the vacant parking space and so appears to have decided to not park there, so as the car behind starts to aim towards the vacant space, he finds all of a sudden that the guy he’d assumed was moving on, is now backing right at him.

And of course the backer is mad at the guy behind him for having failed to read his mind properly.

  1. blocks traffic in both directions as the backing maneuver always seems to start by pulling into the oncoming lane, and everyone has to wait while the backer slowly and carefully backs into the space, since it really does require much more care and attention to back into a narrow parking space than to go in nose first.

I am not impressed by brother Exapno’s link, as (a) it is to a publication that routinely indulges in contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake, right down to pieces on (no, really!) “why you should never ever type two spaces after a period” and the safety problems it raises with backing out of a parking space seem to be all about SUVs and other large vehicles - not to mention those problems will go away as rearview cameras in your dashboard become ubiquitous. (The last several rental cars we’ve had have all had them, and we don’t rent high end cars. If only automatic shifting was progressing as fast.)

Safety issues are all just made up propaganda. The reason that Sarasota has passed this ordinance is simple. Their police department has several license plate scanning and recognition systems called Veriplate. A police officer with one of these patrol cars can just drive through a parking lot and it will automatically scan every license plate and run them. It’s an expensive and high-tech system that can be easily beat by simply backing in. Criminals, knowing their license plates are going to be scanned, would simply park backwards. With all the stolen cars and wanted felons parking backwards, the system would never find anything at all. The city would have wasted their money on these systems if they didn’t pass this ordinance.

There may be merits to the safety of either backing in or backing out in certain situations, but that isn’t the real purpose of the ordinance.


I lived in Florida for more than a decade, frequently backed into spots, and never heard of this.

I’m not saying it’s not the law, but if it is it’s really infrequently enforced and I bet the rental agency people would be as surprised to learn about it as the driver was.

I don’t know where my limo parks or how. My chauffeur drops me off and takes care of everything.

I prefer to back into a spot myself but I can see another thing that may irk people other than the plate visibility issue. If you back into park and keep you car running to keep the air conditioner on you will be exhausting towards the sidewalk. With all of the grey haired one roaming the streets down there (many with oxygen tanks) it may be an issue.