It’s Illegal to Leave Your Car Running in Your Driveway in Some Michigan Towns
It's that time of year again - the time when Michigan starts to more closely resemble Hoth from Star Wars and we all do everything we can do avoid the cold. One of the things that we have learned to do throughout the years is start our cars long before we need to leave the house - both to warm it up and to maybe get all of the ice and snow melted off so we don't have to manually brush it off.
Well, it turns out that in some towns in the state of Michigan, it's illegal to start your car and leave it running in the driveway. Sort of. And it's only enforced some of the time.
Nick Taylor, of Roseville, Mich., posted to Facebook Thursday that he had been ticketed by the Roseville PD for leaving his car running in his driveway with the keys in the ignition. That's right, he got a ticket for leaving his car running in his own driveway.
I tried to find the exact law or ordinance that the police claim Taylor was in violation of, but it's all a little convoluted. The most logical thing I could find is that the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code (R28-1458 & 257.676) prohibits:
Leaving a vehicle unattended on any street or any other place without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition and removing the ignition key. This provision does not apply to a vehicle that was manufactured with an ignition system that does not have a key and that is incapable of being locked.
The Former Chief of the White Lake Township Police Department, Edward Harris, actually addressed this exact law in a piece done with the White Lake Patch called "Ask The Chief" back in 2011. Harris stated:
I think that a person who has a remote-start system on his or her vehicle where a key is not necessary would not be in violation. Anyone who starts their vehicle manually, with a key, and then leaves the key in the vehicle while it is running would be in violation and subject to a civil infraction ticket.
So, technically, you can be ticketed anywhere in the state for starting your car in the morning with your keys, and then leaving the car running with the keys in the ignition when you go back inside.
I actually looked into Grand Rapids' parking ordinances and found that we, too, have something on the books for such things. Article 4, Section 10.42 of the Grand Rapids Code of Ordinances states:
No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to be parked unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key, and taking such key with him or her.
I'm not sure what kind of violation that is considered within the city's schedule of fines, but if it's the same as "abandoned vehicle", you could be fined $20 for violating the ordinance.