WITH lots of visitors to friends and family homes over the festive season, it can be tempting for motorists to park on the pavement, cycle lane or use nearby car parks to stay overnight.

But parking in a new spot can lead to a large bill and angry neighbours if the location isn’t suitable.

Driveways fill up quickly with visiting friends and family over Christmas resulting in large numbers of cars parking on the pavement for those houses with lots of visitors.

While parking on the street might seem like the only option as travellers rush to get inside to the warmth, the experts say all drivers should check signage to see if there are any restrictions wherever they want to park up.

Other spots such as public car parks can seem like a great place to leave a vehicle overnight but can result in a painful penalty.

Drivers should also stay updated on the Highway Code for the most recent laws and regulations on parking vehicles.

Tim Alcock from LeaseCar.uk said: “This Christmas many of us will either be hosting lots of guests or be driving to friends' and families’ homes to visit.

"And many of us drivers don’t actually know the specific places and regulations on where you can park your car overnight.

“Of course, no one wants to run the risk of parking somewhere which may result in a stolen vehicle, vandalism or an expensive fine, which will no doubt ruin Christmas.

“That’s why it’s important to check where it’s illegal to park your car overnight.

"Not only that, but spots which aren’t illegal, but will cause major grievances, like parking in front of your neighbour’s driveway, are inconsiderate, especially during the festive period.

“In fact, parking on someone else’s driveway is classed as a civil offence of trespassing so your car could be removed and a fine issued.

“It is also key to ensure that you are not parked anywhere which could be a danger to others - such as cyclists and emergency service vehicle access.”

Here is LeaseCar.uk’s guide to parking over Christmas.

1. Pavements.

It’s currently only illegal to park on the pavement in London, and although there have been calls to input this ban across the whole country, it’s up to local councils to enforce double yellow lines and signage to stop drivers from parking on the pavement. It might seem tempting to park on the pavement when visiting someone this Christmas, but always check signage first and completely avoid it in the capital city.

2. Car parks.

Before parking, it’s important to check if overnight stays are allowed in certain car parks. If a car park isn’t ticketed it might seem easy to get away with, but parking here overnight is a no go as car parks use ANPR cameras to catch any illegal visitors. If caught, a hefty fine could be on the way.

3. Taxi rank.

It may seem like a good idea for some to park up overnight in an empty taxi rank, but this can actually land drivers a fine, as it is only legal for licensed public taxis to park there. Not only that, but this will mess up the flow of the system over the busy Christmas period and will annoy taxi drivers.

4. In front of a neighbour’s driveway.

Parking in front of a neighbour’s driveway has long caused grievances with homeowners all over the country. Not only is it very annoying for the owner of the driveway, but parking out in front blocks access and causes disruptions for Christmas plans which neighbours have. It might seem convenient for guests to park in front of a neighbours driveway, but it should be avoided at all costs.

5. Cycle lanes.

Many drivers might think it’s fine to park in a cycle lane overnight, but bike users may still be using the cycle lanes during all hours of the day and night. There are dedicated cycle lanes for a reason - to prevent any accidents with vehicles which are parked, or not. Cyclists will be forced to swerve around parked cars, potentially putting themselves and other road users in danger.

6. On someone’s drive.

For those households with a long guest list this Christmas, some drivers might be tempted to park on a neighbour’s driveway to avoid a long walk back to their car. And whilst it is not against the law to actually park on someone else’s drive, the driveway is part of their property so it’s an act of trespassing, which is a civil offence.

7. Check signage.

It might be tempting to park overnight on a nearby street when visiting friends and family members for Christmas, but doing so could incur fines if it is illegal to. That’s why it is important to check around signage in parking spots on the street or in car parks - signs will outline any times or days where drivers cannot park up.

8. Don’t prevent emergency service access.

This may be obvious to drivers, it’s still worth reiterating that it’s crucial to never park anywhere which could prevent access for ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles. Although this shouldn’t be done at any point throughout the day, parking on a narrow street or somewhere with tight access is especially bad at nighttime with significantly less chance for drivers to be able to move their vehicles quickly or legally if they’ve been drinking around the Christmas table.

9. Direction of traffic flow is important.

The Highway Code makes it clear that it’s illegal to park vehicles overnight which are facing against the direction of the traffic flow. The only exception to this rule is unless there is a dedicated parking space to allow drivers to do so.

For more expert advice for driving over Christmastime, head over to https://leasecar.uk/.