By now the following scene may be familiar to some EV drivers. You drive out to your favorite mall to do some shopping on a Saturday and figure you’ll juice up your car while you’re there. After all, you’re going to be there for a few hours and you may as well take advantage of those shiny new charging stations near the store entrance. But to your dismay, you pull up to find no free chargers. Two of them are even blocked by gas-guzzling automobiles that don’t need a charge at all! You have just been ICE’d, and it’s not a great experience for an EV driver.

What Does “ICEing” Mean?

Getting ICE’d means arriving at an EV charging station only to find an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car parked in it, thus preventing you from charging your vehicle. Although it is still a fairly rare occurrence, it does happen on occasion and can have a sizable impact on an EV driver’s day. Someone’s plan to charge up while at the mall has now turned into an all-day event of waiting anxiously for an ICE vehicle to move from a designated EV charging spot. In extreme cases, an EV driver may be relying on that charging station to complete the rest of their journey and may have to find another location to charge up.

Aside from leaving an angry note on the offending vehicle’s windshield, some EV drivers have taken to social media to express their concerns. It’s a topic of frequent discussion on social media, and there is even a Tumblr blog devoted to raising awareness about getting ICE’d.

With more and more EVs on the road every day, it’s important that we address this issue of getting ICE’d both through “EV etiquette” and effective enforcement mechanisms.

EV Etiquette 101: Don’t Be a Power Hog

While it’s great to find EV charging station parking spaces in public locations, don’t assume these parking spots are your private parking spaces! Some EV drivers see the “EV Only” parking sign and decide to park in the prime parking spot… without ever using the charging station. But an EV that is blocking a charging station without plugging in is just as bad as an ICE vehicle doing the same thing. EV charging stations are a shared amenity for all visitors to the business, workplace, or community that installs them.

If your car is done charging, move it to a different spot. If you don’t really need to charge up your car until you get home, leave the charging station for someone else – someone who may need it more than you. If you want to be extra considerate, leave a note on your car with contact details. This will allow other EV drivers to contact you to coordinate charging their car when yours is done.

ICEing Laws and Regulation – Sometimes Enforcement is Key

Some states have begun implementing parking regulations for public charging stations to prevent EV drivers from getting ICE’d. While laws are not yet universal, some jurisdictions are realizing that preserving areas for EV drivers to charge their cars is of paramount concern. Since 2012, California has had laws prohibiting cars from parking in EV spots if they are not actively using the charger. Washington has just passed a law fining motorists $124 for parking in an EV spot without charging their car. This law applies to both ICE drivers and EV’s owners that are not actively charging their cars in these places.

Hawaii has also enacted laws barring non-EVs from parking in EV-designated spots. While many EV owners championed the new laws, others warned that without enforcement the laws would just be all “talk” without actually changing anything. So far, Hawaii is lacking the necessary enforcement mechanisms to prevent ICE vehicles from parking in EV-designated parking, but hopefully that will change. Finally, in Maryland, SB 340 enshrined protection over designated EV parking. Cars not actively charging their cars while parked in an EV spot could receive penalties.

So far the number of jurisdictions actively protecting EVs from getting ICE’d is quite small. But as electric vehicles become more common and more businesses install charging stations, these rules will help ensure that everyone can charge when needed.