Above Zero Temperatures Bring a Change in Car Idling Laws

Updated: 01/23/2013 11:02 AM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

Our temperatures will soon be above zero but still cold enough to make you want to warm up your car before driving.  However, with that slight warm-up comes a change in car idling laws and not knowing those changes could get you ticketed.

Without a driver behind the wheel, warming up your car may cost you more than just gas money.
Since temperatures dropped, Minneapolis police say they've averaged one car theft per day.  It's cars with keys in the ignition, running but with no driver. In the last week, of the ten idling cars reported to police, eight were stolen.

"On a day like today, most of us don't want to be walking.  So if an opportunity arises to not have to walk, people are going to take it," said Sgt. William Palmer with Minneapolis Police.

University of Minnesota student Mayce Klein uses an automatic starter to warm up her car.  

"I would probably not go to class if I didn't have it," she said.

But even though she's avoiding a cold start to the day, she could still get a ticket.
Leaving a running car unattended in Minneapolis for more than fifteen minutes in below zero temperatures and just three minutes in above zero temperatures is against the law even if your keys aren't in the ignition.

Most idling laws differ depending on the city.

You can let your car idle for as long as you'd like anywhere in Bloomington as long as it's locked.

In Edina, you can idle on private property for as long as you'd like but if you're parked on a city street, you cannot leave your car running with keys in the ignition.

It's the same in Saint Paul: no idling with keys in the ignition on public property. And if police catch you, they can even take your key out and keep it at the station until you come to pick it up.