With cold weather making a repeat visit, and winter in general, you will often see cars warming up at work or in driveways so their owners can make that mad dash through the subzero temps and hop into a warm and comfortable vehicle. Recently we were talking about whether or not it was illegal to leave your vehicle running while you're not in it.

According to Claims Journal, as of January 2015, "Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin all prohibit leaving keys in a car while the engine is running. Some states impose fines as much as $500 for doing so." I talked with a representative from Minneapolis 311 and she told me it was illegal to leave a vehicle idling for more than three minutes in Minneapolis unless it is below zero or above 90 degrees. Generally Minneapolis police don't go around keeping track of how long a car has been running unattended, but will respond to reports of cars running for an extended amount of time.

I placed calls about Faribault, Northfield and Owatonna laws concerning prewarming your vehicle and was told that it is legal to allow your vehicle to run unattended for the purpose of warming up in the winter or cooling down in the summer. The dispatcher I talked with did caution that car owners should make sure to secure the vehicle if they plan on leaving it run while it thaws out.

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