It may be rude, but should it be illegal for gas cars to park in EV charging spaces?

·2 min read
Richard Stradling/

A bill that would make it illegal for gas-powered cars and trucks to park at public electric vehicle charging stations began to move forward in the General Assembly on Wednesday, though not without some opposition.

A majority of House Transportation Committee members approved House Bill 77 on a voice vote. The full House passed a similar bill in 2021, only to see it stall in the Senate.

The bill would limit use of designated charging station parking spaces to electric vehicles that are plugged into the equipment. It would apply to charging stations owned by local governments and other public agencies, as well as stations the public can use on private property, as long as the owners have posted a sign indicating they’re for EV charging only.

“The intent of the bill is to keep combustion engines out of those EV charging spots,” said Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican from Rowan County who is one of the primary sponsors.

While the bill is aimed at excluding drivers of petroleum-powered vehicles, some members of the Transportation Committee seemed more concerned about potential abuse by EV owners. Rep. Jay Adams, a Republican from Catawba County, noted that there’s no way to know if an EV driver is actually using the charging equipment.

“So you could park a vehicle, plug it in and leave it there indefinitely,” Adams said.

A couple of members noted that the state has no regulations about cars taking up space in front of gas pumps while their owners aren’t pumping gas, prompting others to mutter that perhaps there should be.

Rep. Mark Pless, a Republican from Haywood County, said he thought local governments could come up with their own rules about the use of EV chargers and that private property owners could do the same, by erecting signs threatening to tow non-electric vehicles from the spots.

“I think it’s unnecessary, personally, and I can’t support it,” Pless said of the bill. “Because it’s taking us to a place to where next thing we are going to be enforcing gas stations.”

Other committee members said they thought the proposed penalty, a $100 fine, was too steep. Rep. Dean Arp, a Republican from Union County, said a parking violation in his county earns a $5 fine and added that he could support the EV bill if the penalty was $25.

But Warren said he thought $100 would be a sufficient deterrent. He said the bill has three more committees to get through before making it to the House floor and that there would be opportunities to tinker with the proposed fine later.

Warren also noted that this year’s version of the bill addresses a concern raised by some members of the Senate two years ago. It says that if an EV charging station doubles as a handicap parking spot that any vehicle with a handicap placard, regardless of its fuel, could park there.