Warming Up Your Car Could Get You a Ticket in Md., Va., DC

A Michigan man is getting a lot of attention online after he says he was given a $128 ticket for leaving his car unattended and running in his driveway. But leaving a vehicle idling is illegal in many states. 

Taylor Trupiano told WDIV he started his car to warm it up one cold Tuesday morning. But when he returned five minutes later, he found the ticket on his car.

"Every person warms up their car," Trupiano told the NBC-affiliate. "We live in Michigan!"

In Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, leaving you running vehicle unattended could also result in a ticket.

Maryland law prohibits "car warming." Vehicles are allowed to idle for up to five minutes. But there are some exceptions. If your car is forced to a stop because of traffic or mechanical issues, the idling law does not apply. 

In the District, vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel are not allowed to idle for more than three minutes, according to the city's website. Vehicles are allowed to idle for up to five minutes if the temperature is below 32 degrees. 

First-time violators could be fined $1,000. 

In Virginia, vehicles used commercially or for public service cannot idle for longer than three minutes while parked in commercial or residential urban area. Tour buses and diesel-powered vehicles in the state can idle for up to 10 minutes, according to the EPA

Leaving your unattended car running also makes you a prime target for thieves.

Prince George’s County Police Cpl. Nicole Hubbard said the thieves operate efficiently and specifically target the coldest weather weeks to maximize their targets.

"This is their job,” Hubbard said. “They get up in the morning, just like you go to work."

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, one out of every eight vehicles stolen last year had the keys inside. 

“That’s one every six-and-a-half minutes," said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.

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