Idle Away, at Least Remotely

By Cindy M. Huss posted 08-07-2017 09:01


Thanks to social media, you can now safely warm up your car while you wait in the comfort of your own home. 2017 PA 61 amended MCL 257.767 after a Roseville man created a nationwide uproar by posting his $128 ticket on social media. He found the ticket when he brought his toddler out to his car. He had left the car to warm up in his driveway on a frigid winter morning last January. 

PA 61 specifically repealed AC R 28.1458, which prohibited allowing a vehicle to stand unattended on a street or any other place without the engine stopped, the ignition locked, and the key removed and in the driver’s possession. Newly amended MCL 257.676 now applies only to idling cars on a “highway,” except for those who have remote starters. If you have a remote starter, you can use that to warm up your car on a frosty morning (or cool it down on a blistering afternoon) even if your car is parked on a public street. 

Of course, things are never simple. The city of Ann Arbor enacted an ordinance to improve air quality in the city. The ordinance went into effect in July. It mostly impacts commercial vehicles, but before leaving your personal car idling—even with a remote starter—check for signs. No vehicle can idle in posted “no idling” zones while unoccupied (or for more than five minutes while occupied). 

So what happened to the Roseville man? He lost an appeal on his ticket, but someone later anonymously paid it. Donors also gave him a remote starter for his car. Of course, these regulatory changes and remote starters will help only if you plan ahead and let your car idle before you need to rush out the driveway.