By on June 29, 2017

Car in a Driveway, Image: Bigstock.com

For many years the phrase “keep the car running” carried a fine in some Michigan locales if put into practice. At least, it once did.  As of Wednesday, the state of Michigan has made it legal to warm up your car in the driveway as you stare at it, coffee in hand, from the front window. Careful, though — local anti-idling laws might still apply.

A local law enacted to prevent vehicle theft was the reason behind a $128 ticket issued to Roseville resident Taylor Trupiano back in January. A police officer handed over the civil infraction notice after seeing Trupiano’s car, with keys in the ignition, engine running, and doors unlocked, sitting unattended in the driveway for an extended period of time. The owner claimed he was simply warming up his car for his girlfriend and two-year-old son.

Eventually, the matter ended up in court. While Trupiano eventually lost his case — he was unable to prove that his driveway wasn’t easily accessible to the public — state lawmakers took notice.

Bill 4215, signed into law yesterday by Governor Rick Snyder, amends a 1949 law concerning the care of motor vehicles. While the portions pertaining to leaving a vehicle unattended on the side of a highway remain the same (brake applied, transmission in park, ignition key gone and wheels turned to the curb), owners needn’t fear their own driveways.

This assumes, of course, their vehicles contain a remote starter.

The amendment to the existing legislation simply adds three sentences. While the first two concern vehicles left on highways, the third states, “This section does not apply to a vehicle that is standing in place and is equipped with a remote start feature, if the remote start feature is engaged.” The preexisting law still applies for vehicles parked on the road in front of your house.

So, while it isn’t exactly an idling free-for-all in Michigan, the state has at least laid some ground rules to prevent overzealous enforcement officers from making your driveway warm-up an expensive one. Just make sure your city hasn’t penned an asterisk next to the amended law.

[Image: Willard Losinger/Bigstock]

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55 Comments on “Go Ahead, Michiganders, Warm That Car Up*...”


  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Sounds like Trupiano is a real criminal. He is guilty of tempting those thieves by leaving an idling car plus guilty of damaging the environment.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Next thing, they’ll prohibit mfrs from selling cars directly to the public.

    Oh, wait…

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Where is American spirit? Surround the township building and don’t anyone in or out until law repealed

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      OK, I’ll play devil’s advocate.

      So…are you willing to pay the piper to get rid of the nanny? Car thefts will likely rise. That means more money and time spent by the police on car thefts, which comes right out of your pocket. It also means higher insurance premiums on your car.

      If you’re OK with that, then repeal away. If not…maybe the law makes some sense.

      • 0 avatar
        Caboose

        FreedMike, I disagree.

        “Car thefts will likely rise.” You’re assuming the anti-idling law was effective at accomplishing its stated purpose.

        “That means more money and time spent by the police on car thefts…” Since the time currently spent by cops on individual car thefts with no other related felony approaches zero, I suspect that such determined detective work will continue. (Of course, msot major metro P.D.s go after chop shops and boost gangs, but individual car thefts? Nah. Not worth the time.)

        “It also means higher insurance premiums on your car.” … *IF* your car gets stolen. And if you’re remote-starting your car in your own driveway in the suburbs (where they have driveways) and it gets stolen, then you live in the ghetto, in which case either A) you should’ve known better the kind of neighboorhood you live in, you are a dumbass, and you deserve to have your insurance rates go up; or B) considering the foregoing, your insurance rates are already high.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Your cynicism about law enforcement is understandable. But police and courts do spend time and our tax money targeting auto theft rings, and I’d say that laws that encourage people to *at minimum* stop hanging out a freakin’ “Please steal my car – it’s open and running and I’m not watching it” sign make all kinds of sense. In my area, there are auto theft gangs that do target “puffers”. I’m sure there are similar gangs who do this anywhere where you have cold weather, which makes “puffing” obvious. That’s the problem laws like this one are trying to address.

          And auto insurance rates are very much determined by theft rates in the area you live in. If there are more thefts, then everyone’s insurance bill goes up.

  • avatar
    deanst

    So if you start your car with a key to warm it up (and lock the doors) you get a ticket, but if it has a remote start you don’t? The mind boggles.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    Anti idling laws are not much different than fining a homeowner for opening her windows on a nice day in an attempt to thwart burglary or fining a store for not locking up their goods to prevent shoplifting. Don’t punish the innocent, punish the criminal and punish them well.

    I get that everyone should take reasonable precautions to avoid becoming a victim of a crime, however, where does it stop beyond anti-idling laws? Will we be fined for losing a purse or wallet rather than doubling down on the criminal’s due punishment and making them face the consequences of their actions? Will an elderly lady be ticketed for being unable to fight off her attacker?

    I just don’t believe in blaming everyone else but the criminal like today’s society likes to do. We are always finding excuses and placing the blame on anyone/everyone else other than the criminal. It is your fault for being a victim of a crime, you enabled the criminal.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      I don’t agree with the Michigan law, but to be the devil’s advocate, what if someone is upside-down in their car and it miraculously gets stolen while they’re warming it up? Maybe there are two criminals involved.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        aargggh.

        it’s not “Michigan law.” it was a city ordinance in Roseville. The state law says you can’t leave a running vehicle unattended *on a highway.* it was the city ordinance which extended that to people’s driveways.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I just rode my bike up the road to Starbucks to grab some breakfast. Was gone ~15-20 min, left my garage door open the whole time. Often walk my dog around the block and do the same thing. No different than idling my car. Let me be the judge of my risk tolerance and neighborhood safety, etc etc. The nannyism can suck it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, okay, I suppose if someone wants to put a big sign on their car that says “I’m unlocked and the ignition is running – please steal me” – which is exactly what people do when they “puff” – they have the right to do so. It’s their car, I suppose.

        But…

        When the car’s stolen, the cops are stuck going after the thieves, and every minute they spend doing that is a minute they don’t spend chasing drunk drivers, bank robbers, wife beaters, crack dealers, or gangbangers (or illegal immigrants, if you’re of a certain political bent), and my taxes pay for their time.

        If there’s a sufficient number of people who are dumb enough to do this, then the rate of auto theft goes up, and so does my insurance premium.

        So, yeah, if people want to be dumb, I can’t stop them. But they can’t hand me the “it’s no one’s problem but mine” line. That’s pure bulls**t. Ultimately, we all pay for stupidity like this, and that’s the reason why laws like this get passed in the first place.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          In my town, cops looking for a stolen car are only being distracted from sitting in a parking lot somewhere yapping to each other, or hassling soccer moms for going 5 over in the luxury CUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Regardless of how intensely cops enforce anti-theft laws, there’s no denying it costs us tax money, and the time they spend doing that just distracts from their more vital duties. And there’s no denying that increased car theft rates hit us all in the checkbook when it comes time to pay State Farm’s monthly vig.

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          But pursuing your direction too much, cops go after the lowest hanging fruit, they will spend their time being meter maids and code enforcement officers instead of being vigilant for those big crimes you would prefer they were working on.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Let me be the judge of my risk tolerance”

        people are objectively terrible at accurately assessing risk.

        yes, that includes you.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I wish the “freedom ‘n whiskey” folks would just admit that in their own way, they ain’t that different than, say, a welfare mom with five kids by different dads. Irresponsibility costs everyone money, whether it’s higher taxes or higher insurance premiums. In the end, we all pay for each other’s BS issues, one way or another. That’s why laws like the one in this story get passed in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      It’s hard to argue against these laws because we’ve decided it’s OK to force people to buy health insurance, force people to bake cakes for weddings, force kids to participate in religious ceremonies or LGBT “clubs”, forcing people to wear seat belts or helmets, etc. If there’s any way of twisting something into the “public interest”, we allow it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        And I’m “forced” to pay for a president who likes to spend his time trashing the looks of some talking head who disagrees with him. And health insurance for a bunch of folks who seem determined to screw millions of people out of their coverage. And…and…and…

        It’s funny how the “forced to pay” thing only p*sses off people when it’s things they don’t like, isn’t it?

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Welcome to being a small-l libertarian. The solution to being annoyed at everything you have to pay for is having the government do less so there’s less to be annoyed by.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            …or accept the fact that you’re not going to win every political argument, and that’s life here in these grand United States of America. But people are just too invested in going on the jihad every couple of years over hot-button issues to do that, I fear.

            In its’ own way, libertarianism is just as utopian as communism. Both ideas rest on political assumptions that are completely invalid (in communism’s case, it’s unlimited resources, and in libertarianism’s case, it’s excessive reliance on peoples’ good political motives and/or perfect economic knowledge). It ain’t gonna work, whether it’s “big L” or “small L”.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Well, it appears the “pro-idle” crowd in MI is closer to winning this one.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I don’t have a problem with “puffing” as long as the owner is being responsible and locking his car. And it also makes sense for cities or counties to be able to do something about their own car theft rates. Michigan’s solution seems like a good balance to me.

            My issue is really with the idea that people can claim laws like this one offend their “freedom ‘n whiskey” sensibilities, but ignore that everyone ends up paying for their “freedom ‘n whiskey” – their risks end up “socialized” in the end.

  • avatar
    shaker

    More people being left out of our supposed “shining city on a hill” I suppose.

    The stock market is at an all-time-high, yet the barbarians are at the gates – why?

    They must be subhuman.

    Or they lack opportunity.

    So, education and jobs, or bigger, badder prisons – the mind boggles with the malady of our own creation.

    What would a Good Christian do? (Survey Sez: LOCKEMUP).

    Remote Start on an EV is quite secure; only the climate system is activated – no cloud of exhaust on a chilly day to attract the ne’r do wells.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      Utopia is not an option. 85 years of “progressive” social engineering have failed to bring it about, and further attempts will continue to fail.

      What will remotely activating the climate system to make an electric car interior nice and toasty on a frigid morning do to its range for the day? Electric heat uses a lot of power and it gets very, very cold in quite a few parts of the country. Maybe they can do what GM did with the early Corvair and use a gasoline-fired heater. :)

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        That EV can remain plugged in while it warms or cools too.

        I recommend a garage heated to a reasonable temperature rather than parking outside in the great white north.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        “Electric heat uses a lot of power and it gets very, very cold in quite a few parts of the country…”

        Yes, electric resistance heat is terribly inefficient, and cuts into the range considerably, so one would hope to get the electricity from solar and wind to offset that inefficiency.

        Many people forget that fossil fuels are an extremely concentrated form of energy that formed under unique circumstances, over millions of years, from trillions of tons of biological material, produced by untold kilowatt-years of solar energy.

        The fact that my Volt can travel across town and back (40 miles), with the A/C running, in average stop-and-go traffic, on an overnight charge from a 120-volt outlet is a huge advance in technology — we need the power grid to get off fossil fuels to fully enjoy the promise of this tech.

  • avatar
    boozysmurf

    Meh.

    Idling to warm your car up is stupid anyway (and I say this from Ottawa, where it was -46oC this winter, and is regularly -20oC through February).

    If you so desperately need to warm the car, put the money into a block heater and timer, not an auto starter. Have it come on at 4am, the oil, coolant, etc are warmed for you when you head out in the morning and unplug it. At that point, 30 seconds starts to warm the cabin.

    That’s versus 20+ minutes of idling, from brutally cold sludge in the oil pan, doing the worst possible wear to your engine on a daily basis, and not really getting it hot inside until you get moving anyway.

    Not to mention the amount of gas you’re wasting (and I find that most of the people who idle their cars longest also complain loudest about just how terrible their fuel mileage is, and how the manufacturer should stop lying on the sticker) by idling vs. block heater.

    Yeah, it’s not ALWAYS possible to plug in, but even then, five minutes of driving tends to bring most engines to temperature faster than twenty minutes of idling.

    I see people at work starting their cars (from the window of the building) a full 45 minutes before they leave – often enough they have to restart it twice in that time, because the autostart/run has turned it off again, it’s ridiculously stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      45 minutes? That’s crazy. I think my MKS only allows two remote starts between actual start-cycles, anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        boozysmurf

        Yeah, they tend to start around 2:15, to leave at 3, and it gets worse than that, honestly.

        I know there’s a couple of people who idle their entire lunch break, summer (for a/c) and winter (for heat) so they can sit in the car for their lunch.

        I like the idea of limiting the number of restarts.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Vehicles use very little fuel at idle, too.

          I did the math one time to figure out how much it would cost to start my car the first day of winter and idle it continuously through Spring; shutting down only for service and refueling.

          Turns out it was not very much.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            I sat in an idling V-6 Intrepid one cold night at a worksite. It consumed 3/8 of a tank over the night.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      Block heaters are awesome! But you still need to remote start for a few minutes to transfer the generated heat to the cabin. This is important if you’re loading young kids in the winter months.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      -46C in Ottawa? I don’t believe it.

      “The coldest temperature ever recorded was −38.9 °C (−38 °F) on 29 December 1933.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa

      I agree on heating the engine in winter though. Most of my winter starts are heated starts, even while parked in the garage. I never idle my car except when I’m clearing snow and scraping the windows; or if I simply can’t drive because of frost on the inside of the window.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    AFAIK such laws are the norm in Europe.

    When I was in Berlin, Germany, in the winter of 2014 with my boyfriend we got scowled by two locals for letting our rental idle on the hotel parking lot. We were taken aback by this, but then informed ourselves of local rules and regulations. The only time your car is allowed to idle is when you’re stuck at a traffic light, literally. Pretty extreme!

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Instead of the usual thumping bass, our neighbour’s daughter treating us to 20 minutes of a self help book on CD while she “cooled her car down” using a 250hp air conditioner.

    There is absolutely no need for remote starts. Cars are designed to warm up in a about a minute while being driven. Not sitting in the driveway for 20 minutes getting 0 MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      “There is absolutely no need for remote starts.”

      Because what has no value to me shouldn’t have any value for anyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      Remote start is a godsend for parents of young children. Do you have kids in carseats? Do you know that putting winter jackets on them before buckling them in is extremely dangerous? I put my precious cargo in nothing heavier than a thin sweatshirt or a long-sleeve T. Suggest to me another way to make the vehicle acceptably warm (50ish) before putting my child into it. I use a block heater, but it still needs 5 minutes of remote start to transfer that heat to the cabin. Ideally I’d have an attached garage which would keep my vehicles at ~50 without issue but I don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        I know that COnsumer Reports says:

        “As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat.”

        This leads me to believe that your description of this as “extremely dangerous” is an exaggeration.

      • 0 avatar
        TDIGuy

        Even the first trip home from the hospital in January, we had my son in a light sweater and then covered with blankets. The only warm up the car got was idling while I brushed it off and driving from the parking lot to the hospital entrance.

        And the environment can’t speak for itself so somebody has to.

        It seems like this same argument is happening a few posts down but in more length. I’m going to go over there rather than duplicate.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I’m not much of an idler, but there are times when the vehicle has to run for a few minutes just to clear the windows enough to be driveable. In fact, I’d say that’s most of the time while starting a vehicle sitting outside at night or early morning in my winter climate.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Heated seats?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    You know, I don’t blame the localities that have this banned. Here’s a real good example of what happens:

    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/front-range/denver/denver-puffer-has-both-cars-stolen-in-a-single-day-after-leaving-them-unattended-

    So…this moron “puffs” with not one, but two cars, *both* of which end up ripped off. In the end, guess who has to pay for that? I do. Why? Because a) the cops are paid from my tax dollars to go after the thieves, and b) if more cars are stolen in my area, then my insurance premiums go up.

    Said this the other day on another thread: if you want to say “I have the right to be stupid, so the big bad gummint can go pound its’ nanny laws up its’ butt,” then go ahead, and feel free to be as stupid as you want. Just don’t hand me the BS line that the only person that affects is you.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      The funny part in your rant is that you believe cops actually “go after the thieves.” They just record the VIN, and wait for what’s left to turn up somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        No, the cops do go after car theft rings where I live.

        http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/30/10-indicted-by-state-in-alleged-denver-metro-auto-theft-burglary-ring/

        And the cost to investigate and prosecute these thefts comes right out of my pocket. Every minute spent on that is one minute spent not going after other violent criminals (or illegal immigrants, if you subscribe to the “cops should act as immigration police” argument).

        The increased cost of insurance also comes right out of my pocket.

        Again…if people want to say it’s their right to be stupid and hang a big neon sign that says “steal me” on their cars, then I suppose it’s their right. Just don’t hand me the “it’s my problem, not yours” line. That’s nonsense.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I think the funny part is the use of the term “puffs” and “puffers”. I had to click on the link to find out what that meant. I figured it meant people who idle while smoking or something. Like there needs to be some derogatory term for the people who idle their vehicles. In Saskatchewan, that’s almost everybody.

        The unfunny part is that decent people are financially harmed because car thieves are allowed to exist even after they’ve been caught once.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    The real story here is that politicians, MICHIGAN POLITICIANS, actually passed a law that doesn’t screw over everyone. That’s friggin amazing.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    What about cars that have push button start? If I was to want to “warm up” my car (2016 Mazda6), I can get in, push the start button, and then walk back in the house – taking the key fob with me. The car will beep a few times to remind me that there’s not a key in it, but it will otherwise sit and idle just fine.

    I think it could still theoretically be driven away, though. It would just beep a lot and be unable to be restarted once it was shut off. But, in the eyes of the law, does me starting it and taking the key back in the house with me constitute a remote start? The keys aren’t technically in the vehicle at that point.

    It’s a moot point for me anyway, thanks to the fact that I A.) Live in Kentucky and our governor is too busy trying to change healthcare to worry about any other laws, and B.) I have an attached garage the car stays in and the coldest the garage gets is around 40-45F.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      My Acura shuts off when the keyfob is not present and the brake is pressed to shift it into drive.

      I think.

      I’ll be figuring that out before I ever let it idle unattended. Around here we could safely leave the house unlocked if we wanted to.

      I prefer to start the engine and go as soon as I can scrape the outside of the windows. Within 2-3 minutes its heating enough to defog the windshield caused by our breath.

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    Prevent crime by creating more criminals.
    Public servants are creatively Orwellian in their desire for job security.

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