Anti-ICEing Laws – Do They Really Work?


Three Citations in Five Years

Howard County, Maryland passed one of the earliest anti-ICEing laws in July, 2014. The ordinance is designed to keep Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars from blocking electric vehicle charging stations. In the five years since it was enacted, only three citations have been given according to the Howard County Police Department. One ticket each in the years 2014, 2017 and 2019.

Signage an Issue

Many anti-ICEing laws require an official sign to be posted in order to be enforced on private or public property. In Howard County, the sign must be at least 12 inches by 18 inches and meet government standards.

HoCoMD Anti-ICEing Laws Charging Station
Sign at Howard County Library EV charging spot is not enforceable under Police guidelines.

A sign that designates a space under this subsection must meet be at least 12 inches by 18 inches and meet any applicable State or Federal standards for parking control signs.

Howard Co. MD Sec. 21.207c3 Parking restrictions – Plug-in vehicle recharging stations

One Sign Considered Enforceable

The Howard County Police Department created a Training Bulletin to provide guidance to officers when responding to calls of non-electric vehicles parked in EV charging spaces.

Some of the key points listed in the bulletin are:

● Legislation enforceable on public and private property.
● Private property owners/managers may designate spaces for plug-in vehicles and place plug-in signs.
● Signs are enforceable only if they meet designated standards.
● Only vehicles that have a plug-in are permitted to park in designated plug-in spaces.
● Posted time limitations may vary, however parking a non-plug-in vehicle in a space posted for a plug-in vehicle (regardless of time limitations) is prohibited.
● There are no specific provisions in the Code for enforcing time limits.
● Proper signage must be present to enforce the legislation.
● The below pole sign must be be present for enforcement to take place.

Anti-ICEing Laws Maryland signage
“The only sign currently enforceable on county & private property related to Plug-in vehicles” per Howard County Police Department Training Bulletin 2019-04

Police Clarification on Enforceable Signage

I wrote to the Howard County Police Chief to ask for help in identifying which specific signs are considered to be enforceable under Section 21.207. I included an image showing examples of six signs that are posted at various charging stations in the county.

Anti-ICEing Laws signs

The Traffic Management Division Commander for HCPD responded that sign “A” conforms to the specifications in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and “If HCPD responds to a potential violation of 21-207 with any other sign posted, no parking citation will be issued by the officer.

Electrify America Not Enforceable

Given this information, there are very few charging stations in Howard County that have the particular sign that Howard County Police Officers are trained to recognize as subject to enforcement. Even the signs (C) at the new Electrify America charging site at Walmart in Columbia won’t be enforced by the HCPD even though the signs seem to conform to the MUTCD standards.

Electrify America in Columbia, MD

In 2018 I reached out to an EVgo executive for help. I explained the effort of the EV community in Maryland to get laws passed in Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore counties and asked if they could help us get the proper regulatory signs that meet the MUTCD standards required for enforcement. I got a response that they were taking steps to make their signage “as clear and helpful as we can.” Eventually we got blue and white signs with an EVgo logo (F) which, of course, are not enforceable in Howard County.

The signs (B) at the Howard County Library, Elkridge Branch are not enforceable. I’ve seen ICE vehicles blocking those charging spots numerous times. I brought this to the attention of the Howard County Department of Public Works (DPW) when the library first opened. Unfortunately, the signs were never changed.

BGE Signs Not Enforceable

Signs posted at the site of new BGE charging stations that are under construction at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library are not going to be enforceable per HCPD training. BGE is planning to install charging stations at a number of other public spaces in Howard County as well as Montgomery County which also requires an official sign for enforcement of their EV charging station parking ordinance.

BGE EVsmart Parking Signs
BGE EVsmart Electric Vehicle Parking Only Signs – Not Enforceable

Colorado passed a statewide anti-ICEing law in May, 2019. Their law specifies that in order to be enforced, an “official sign” must cite the state Code C.R.S. 42-4-1213 and clearly display the penalty for violations. To date, we have not seen or heard of any signs posted in Colorado that conform to the requirements for enforcement.

Tesla tweeted enthusiasm for the Colorado law when it passed, but we understand that Tesla has yet to post “official signs” at their Colorado Superchargers. Not even at Loveland, CO Supercharger which had a high-profile ICEing incident a few months ago.

EVgo tweeted on August 5th that they’re working on making their signs compliant with the Colorado law. They hadn’t posted new signs at any of the sites I visited there in late September.

I’ve been involved with anti-ICEing legislation since 2012 when Maryland House Bill 108 was co-sponsored by my representative, Guy Guzzone. I’ve written 50 posts on PlugInSites about ICEing and signage issues. One thing I’ve learned is that getting a law passed is irrelevant without also getting the cooperation of the charging station operators to post the signs required for enforcement.

The right signage, even without anti-ICEing laws, solves the problem in most cases.

Ocean City, Maryland

Signs posted by municipalities on public property are generally enforceable under existing “failure to obey an official sign” ordinances. Montgomery County usually cites the “failure to obey” rather than their anti-ICEing law when issuing citations at their MCDOT garage charging stations. Ocean City and Hyattsville enforce charging station parking on city property without any special anti-ICEing law.

Private property owners can post signs threatening to tow violators. Trespass-tow laws already exist in many places including the state of Maryland.

What if EV charging station operators were required to post effective (MUTCD) signs as a condition of receiving public funding? A law that mandates official signs at all taxpayer or ratepayer funded charging stations might be more helpful than anti-ICEing laws.

See also: