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Yes Montanans, There are Laws About Where you Can Warm-Up Your Car

Photo Courtesy of Jon King
Photo Courtesy of Jon King

A man from Roseville, Michigan was recently given a $128 ticket for leaving his vehicle unattended as he warmed it up in his driveway. The obscure law was a surprise to many and the ensuing lawsuits have folks across the country wondering if similar laws exist in other states.  According to Missoula Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh, there are a few places in Montana where warming a vehicle unattended could result in a ticket.

“You can warm-up a vehicle on private property, in your garage, in your driveway, in a private parking lot, but you cannot warm-up your vehicle, per this statute on a city street,” said Welsh.

The main law Welsh cites as a reference here is one that applies statewide.

61-8-357. Unattended motor vehicles. No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine and effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway in such a manner as to prevent the vehicle from rolling onto the roadway.

A Missoula ordinance allows unattended licensed delivery vehicles to remain running, but there is no special allowance for other vehicles on public streets… even if they are adjacent to a home.

10.14.050 Unattended motor vehicles. No person driv­ing or in charge of any motor vehicle except a licensed delivery truck or other delivery vehicle, shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition and removing the key. No vehicle shall be permitted to stand unattended upon any perceptible grade, without stopping the engine and effectively setting the brake thereon, and turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the street. (Prior code §20‑11).

Advocates for laws against allowing unattended vehicles to remain running say such vehicles create a public safety hazard and encourage car theft. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that such laws infringe on individual freedom.

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