Victoria is the first state to implement fines for non-electric car owners occupying designated electric car charging and parking spots, under new amendments to the state's road rules.
In effect from December 1, 2020, the changes standardise the signs and symbols used on electric car parking areas and give councils and other parking operators the power to enforce EV-only spaces.
As a result, non-electric car owners could be fined up to $330 for unlawfully occupying a parking space specifically marked out for electric car owners.
The changes state that "a driver of a vehicle that is not an electric-powered vehicle must not stop in a parking area for electric-powered vehicles".
Additionally, "a driver must not stop in a parking area for the charging of electric-powered vehicles unless the driver's vehicle is an electric-powered vehicle and the electric-powered vehicle is plugged in to an external source of electricity".
Both offences carry a maximum fine of two court penalty units and currently, one penalty unit is worth $165.22, meaning a maximum fine could be up to $330.44.
At minimum, the infringement penalty is 0.6 penalty units, or approximately $99.
The rules define an "electric-powered vehicle" as one "powered by one or more electric motors or traction motors – regardless of whether the vehicle is also powered by another form of propulsion – and can be recharged from an external source of electricity".
This would mean plug-in hybrid cars are permitted to use the designated areas, but not full hybrids like those offered by Toyota.
It defines the designated EV areas in question as those with a parking sign featuring an electric-powered vehicle symbol or an electric-powered vehicle parking symbol – with the recommendation also clearly stipulating the official state-wide symbols for each.
The proposed changes were first put forward in a report from the Australasian Parliamentary Counsel Committee in May 2019, suggesting the new legislation will likely be rolled-out across the country.
“The Victorian Government is working with the National Transport Commission and other states and territories to standardise parking laws," a state government spokesperson told CarAdvice.
Above: The official electric-powered vehicle symbol on left, and the official electric-powered vehicle charging symbol on right.
Tim Washington, CEO of JET Charge – Australia's largest supplier of electric car charging – said the proposed amendments were "great news".
"For us, it means that councils finally have the authority to penalise people who park inappropriately," Mr Washington said.
"This is great news, because it means that those who need to get a charge, can hopefully get a charge. This also applies to EV drivers themselves who parking in EV charging bays but don't actually need to charge, and don't plug in."
Additionally, Mr Washington said the provision of official symbols for EV charging and parking will allow for "consistency across the state".
"The only wrinkle in all of this is that the rules require you to be 'plugged in' to an external source of electricity. It means that in the next few years we'll have to amend the Rules again to reflect the introduction of wireless EV charging," Mr Washington said.
"Hopefully this will mean more confidence for all industry players in rolling out public charging infrastructure."