Is Driveway Considered Curtilage?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“I have a rare vehicle parked in my driveway. I am in the process of restoring it. The driveway is behind my house on an alley and the car is not visible from the street.  The code enforcement guy is trying to say that it is a public nuisance.  I very much disagree. Is my driveway not considered my curtilage? Does the city have the right to look inside or otherwise open or demand inspection of the locked car on my premises without a warrant? At what point does my right to privacy become violated here?”

Good question.  Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.”

If the code enforcement officer believes that a car in this sort of position can be considered a public nuisance in your area, there’s a good chance (though hardly a certainty) that he’s correct.  More importantly, if he issues you a citation, the burden is suddenly on you to defend yourself or, at a minimum, be fined.

I would first look for a practical way of getting around this: can you garage the car, or cover it?  Would that satisfy him, without too much trouble for you?  Failing something like that, find yourself a local attorney (perhaps one who likes cars) and dig in for a long one.