Nothing is worse than finding a perfect parking spot only to have your hopes and dreams crushed by a fire hydrant, but how far can you legally park from it?
You can legally park 15 feet away from a fire hydrant. However, some cities and states have more relaxed fire hydrant regulations, allowing you to park anywhere from 3 feet to 10 feet from the hydrant. A red-painted curb often indicates the legal parking distance.
The distance you need to park from a fire hydrant can vary depending on the state and municipality that you live in.
How Far Can You Legally Park From a Fire Hydrant?
Most states prohibit drivers from parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant. This is officially classified as a "no parking zone," and you can be fined or have your car towed for violating this law.
With that said, although the 15-foot figure has become standardized across the country, each state and municipality can technically set their own distance for legally parking near a fire hydrant.
You can find some parts of the country with more relaxed fire hydrant parking regulations that dictate a minimum of 10 feet – with some areas even allowing as little as 3 feet between your car and the hydrant.
To confirm how far you can legally park from a hydrant, you will have to look up the laws of your state and municipality to get a legitimate answer, as this can vary across the board.
If you are unsure, I recommend sticking to the 15-foot standard until you verify otherwise.
How Long Can You Park Near a Fire Hydrant?
The answer is no time at all. You are not allowed to legally park in front of a fire hydrant for any amount of time, as you will incur a fine if caught.
One of the most common justifications that police and parking officials hear when issuing tickets to violators is, “it was just for a minute.”
Regardless of whether it’s for 1 minute or 1 hour, you can expect the same fine and consequences for the violation.
Can You Stop in Front of a Fire Hydrant?
Although parking in front of a fire hydrant is an immediate red flag, stopping in front of one tends to fall into a bit of a gray area. Many drivers stop in front of fire hydrants and do not receive tickets.
So long as you do not leave the car while it is in park and the engine is still on, this does not officially count as parking. In this situation, you are “standing,” and most officers will have a hard time getting away with ticketing you.
While I recommend finding another empty spot to park or stop temporarily, you should be allowed to legally stop in front of a fire hydrant if you do not exit the car or turn off the engine.
How to Spot a Fire Hydrant “No-Parking Zone”
This should really be a no-brainer, but the best way to know if you are in a no-parking zone is to look out for a fire hydrant when parking your car.
With that said, they are not always easy to spot and are commonly overlooked in urban areas. If you do not see a fire hydrant before parking, look out for the following indicators.
The most common way to spot a fire hydrant is by a red-painted curb.
Most municipalities will paint their curbs red if there is a fire hydrant nearby so that drivers have a clear indication not to park there.
While this can vary depending on the area you live in, most cities will paint the curb the same distance you need to keep from the fire hydrant when parking your car.
Chances are you have probably seen a blue RPM (road pavement marker) and mistaken it for an odd speed bump.
Most cities and states use blue RPMs to make it easier for drivers and fire engines to spot nearby fire hydrants.
Blue RPMs are adjacent to fire hydrants, and you can use them to figure out where you can and can’t park if you do not immediately see a red curb or hydrant.
How to Tell If You Parked Far Enough from a Fire Hydrant
One of the most frustrating things about parking near a fire hydrant is determining if you are legally far enough from it to avoid a ticket. 15 feet can be a tricky distance to gauge, and a lot of people receive tickets for parking near a fire hydrant after being confident that they were far enough.
Some states and municipalities will simplify this for you by painting the curb red the legal distance that you are supposed to keep from the hydrant, but many do not. If the paint is missing, chipped, or faded, your best bet is to have a tape measure handy in your car.
Can You Park in Front of a Fire Hydrant if the Paint is Gone?
You cannot park in front of a fire hydrant if the paint is gone. This is one of the biggest myths about parking near a hydrant, and it’s often the justification that drivers use to defend their case when contesting tickets in court.
Chipped or painted red paint on a curb does not imply that the fire hydrant no-parking zone is up for grabs. As a driver, you are obliged to confirm that your car is legally parked every time you exit the vehicle.
This implies that you can be ticketed for parking in front of a fire hydrant even if the paint is completely gone.
How Much is the Fine for Parking in Front of a Fire Hydrant?
Parking in front of a fire hydrant is not a serious offense, but you can expect a fine nonetheless. How much you have to pay can vary depending on the state and city that you live in.
Most people are ticketed $80 to $100 for parking near a fire hydrant, but this can increase if you are parked there for a long time.
Some people unknowingly leave their cars parked in front of fire hydrants for days and return to find a handful of tickets attached to their windshield.
Naturally, the fines increase the longer you park in front of the hydrant. However, if you fail to move your car in time, it will eventually be towed and sent to the impound.
Once this occurs, you can expect to pay considerably more to get your car out of the impound lot. After paying the towing and impound fees, you are looking at roughly $1,000+, not including the fire hydrant fines.
Are There Exceptions for Parking in Front of a Fire Hydrant?
Exceptions for parking near a fire hydrant are very rare and practically unheard of. Unless a sign specifically states that you can park in front of the fire hydrant, it’s safe to assume that you cannot.
Some cities temporarily allow drivers to park in front of fire hydrants during off hours. The timeframe you are given to legally park will be indicated on a sign near the fire hydrant.
Key Takeaways to Parking Near a Fire Hydrant
You can legally park 15 feet away from a fire hydrant.
Some cities and states have more relaxed fire hydrant regulations, allowing you to park anywhere from 3 feet to 10 feet away from the hydrant, but a red-painted curb often indicates the legal parking distance.
The fine for parking near a fire hydrant is usually between $80 to $100.