Well, this one is a can of worms.

  • There are no specific offences for unplugging an EV that is charging
  • But you could find yourself fined for other offences
  • Expect leniency if it’s fully charged, but if it’s still charging, that’s naughty

Just ask any EV owner how they feel when pulled up to a public charger only to find a car parked there, with the display stating the vehicle is completely charged, but the car’s owner is nowhere to be found.

There are apps that allow a common decency element to this, like PlugShare, where you can put a status update and state that you’re “going to be back by 4pm” or something like that.

But if 4:00 pm rolls around, then 4:10 pm, 4:20 pm, and so on, and nobody surfaces to claim their fully charged car, can you get in trouble for unplugging it and plugging yours in, if it’s possible to do so?

The answer is – at this stage – very unclear, with points made by different jurisdictions showing that there is a need for some kind of rule, law, guideline or regulation to manage this kind of scenario.

For instance, a Queensland police officer we spoke with said that under the state’s Traffic Act, you could be found to have “unlawfully interfered with the mechanisms of a motor vehicle,” because, in the situation where a car is plugged in, the vehicle and the charger are likely to be considered one and the same. As such, you would have no right to unplug the vehicle, and could be fined accordingly under that offence.

Further, a spokesperson for Victorian police media advised us that: “The unplugging of a car would depend on individual circumstances, while there is no direct offence for it, it could constitute a trespass or something along those lines pending on where it occurred.”

As is the case with letting down someone’s tyres, you could be found to have interfered with a motor vehicle, an offence that in some states could mean a penalty of just a few hundred bucks, or a fortnight behind bars.

Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.

Extracted in full from: Is it illegal to unplug an EV that is charging? | CarExpert