Last month, a series of articles circulated purporting that drivers who warm up their car can get a ticket. There are laws against this in some parts of the country, including Ohio, Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Auburn, CA. In New York, however, the law only applies in certain circumstances.
Under section 1210 of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law, a car may not be left idling and unattended with the key in the ignition and the parking brake unset. Though the law allows you to let the engine run if you are sitting inside the car, you could receive a citation if you leave the vehicle idling.
The law was written based on automotive technology that is now out of date. The language hails back to a time when most cars had manual transmissions and setting the parking brake was a safety issue – if the brake wasn’t set, the car would slide down even a slight incline before it could enter first gear. That’s not a risk with today’s automatic transmission vehicles.
The law also fails to recognize the existence of remote start technology. Many drivers use remote start features to keep their cars on (and thus warm) while running errands. If you have a remote start or a keyless entry device (a.k.a. key fob), which prevents the car from being driven unless the device is detected inside the vehicle, are you in the clear?
A recent case in 2014 found one driver guilty of leaving an idling vehicle unattended despite having removed the keys from the ignition. In this particular instance, the keys were removed from a 1969 truck, which contained a well-known defect that allowed the keys to be removed with the engine still running. The judge ruled that, despite the keys not being in the ignition, the driver was still violating the statute. He further argued that the question of the keys being in the ignition was academic and that any vehicle left idling and unattended – even using remote start or ignition technology – was in violation.
It’s possible the officer and judge in this case are outliers. However, this does create a precedent for ticketing drivers for remote starting their cars or leaving idling vehicles using keyless technology.
Drivers who get a ticket for leaving an idling vehicle unattended can face up $150 in fines, plus a surcharge of a up to $93. If you or a loved one has been ticketed for a traffic violation in New York, contact an attorney right away for help. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.