A Garden City, NY man was visited by law enforcement and threatened with a ticket as he prepared to wash his 1997 Volkswagen in his own driveway.
In the encounter, which was captured on video and posted to You Tube on November 27th, the officer can be seen walking up the driveway to what is obviously a private residence in what appears to be an upper middle class neighborhood and informing at least two men behind the camera that he is responding to a complaint from a neighbor. He states that he is there to warn the men that if they wash the car, they will be in violation of an ordinance which prohibits people from repairing or detailing autos in a public place. When questioned about the ordinance, the officer responds by showing them a Xerox copy of the rule and informing them that they are subject to the law because the area in which they are working is in public view. When the men insist that they are on private property, the officer informs them that if they wash the car in the driveway they will be ticketed.
The Truth About Cars enjoys a good legal discussion and I think there are several elements here that can be seen from different perspectives. In general, people who live in upper class communities don’t like it when their neighbors work on hoopties in their front yards and it makes sense that they would pass an ordinance to prohibit that sort of thing. This officer, who comes off as congenial and professional throughout the encounter, is charged with enforcing those rules and I think he does a good job of explaining the situation to two men who obviously disagree. Of course, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can watch the video and make your own call.