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Police: Don't Leave Your Car Running Unattended

Leaving a car unattended as it idles, even to 'warm up,' could result in a fine and even points against your driver's license.

As the winter wears on and the weather gets colder, many of us want to warm up our vehicles before we leave the house each morning.

In addition to increasing the risk of vehicle theft, apparently this is against the law.

After a recent rash of cars being stolen after they were left running Jason Goorevitz, an outreach officer with Parkville's police precinct, sent an email to remind citizens that leaving an unattended vehicle running, with the keys in the ignition can result in fines and even the penalty of points on your license.

"In the past week alone, five vehicles have been stolen when owners left them unattended, with engines running and the keys in the ignition," the email, issued by the Baltimore County police department, said.

"In addition to the increased risk of vehicle theft, leaving a vehicle alone with the engine running is against the law. Officers can issue a ticket that is accompanied by a $70 fine and one point against your driving record if they see an unattended car," the email said. 

Officer Jeff Schaub, who works in traffic enforcement at Parkville Precinct, said that it's not often that a ticket is written for the infraction but that it could happen.

"Not a lot of guys write that up," Schaub said. He also explained that getting a ticket is less likely when a vehicles owner uses an automatic car starter because typically those vehicles can't be driven without a key in the ignition.

"I think in that case, the spirit of the law is being fulfilled," Schaub said.

Do you start your car up in the mornings to get it warm before you leave for work? Did you know that it could result in fines and points? Is this fair? Tell us in the comments.

Tenda January 19, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I got a fifty-two dollar ticket for leaving my car running unattended to warm up last winter, my car was parked less than 10 feet from my front door. I had no idea that it was against the law to do so. Needless to say it was a lesson learned.
Kiley Saeed January 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM
What about on your own property? We start mine in our driveway. I have an infant and I'm not putting her into a cold car in these temperatures.
Jennifer Woods January 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I now have a remote start but before that I had two keys made. One to start car, then lock it and then one to get back in it. This is probably still illegal but definitely safer alternative.
Lisa Mantakos January 20, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Good question Kiley, I'd like to know that as well. Nick can you find that out for us?
ParkvilleMomof2 January 20, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I was wondering about the same thing Kiley,
Margaret January 21, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I don't think it is fair to ticket us for warming up our cars in the morning at winter I don't like it when they give tickets out for not cutting your own lawn especially when you can't help it.
Tanya January 21, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Just another money making scheme for Baltimore County. Making a penalty for good, hardworking people, so the police don't have to work to arrest the criminals. Prevention is important, but not being able to heat up your car for your baby is crazy. Why not take the man hours it takes to write these tickets and use it more productively. For example have the police lock up criminals that are steeling the cars. By the way...when a policeman gets out of the car and leaves it running to issue this ticket, does he get a ticket for doing the exact samething. NO!
ParkvilleMomof2 January 23, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Still no answer to the question of running a car while it is sitting in the driveway. Does anyone know if that is legal.

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