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Is Idling Your Car to Warm It Up Actually Illegal?

It can be, depending on your state and how long you let it go.

Snowy Car


As the bitter cold of winter hits several states, think twice before you warm up your car. Not only can it be bad for the vehicle, but a majority of states have what are known as anti-idling laws. These laws are meant to blunt the negative effects cars have on the environment and protect against vehicle theft. They apply to numerous situations, like groups of people refusing to exit a car in an area marked for unloading. They also mean someone can get fined for warming up their car in the cold for, generally, over half an hour.


There's No Need to Warm Up Your Car in the Cold

According to the E.P.A 31 states and Washington, D.C., have such regulations. Time regulations vary per state and county, make sure to check out the specifics of your area's laws on your own. Many states offer exceptions with exceedingly low temperatures. In Georgia, for example, if the temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, idling is allowed for up to 25 minutes.

That being said, here's a basic rundown:

  • Arizona, where the first penalty is $100 and the second one is $300.
  • California, where idling laws for cars are $100, $250 for boats, and $750 for trucks.
  • Colorado, where idling violations are to be met with a fine up to $300 or a prison sentence up t0 90 days.
  • Connecticut, where idling violations are to be met with fines between $100 and $500.
  • Delaware only has idling violations in Wilmington County and the EPA doesn't list specific fines.
  • District of Columbia has idling violations that can go up to $5,000.
  • Georgia has a minimum fine of $500.00.
  • Hawaii does not list any specific fine.
  • Illinois does not list any specific fine.
  • Louisiana has fines for buses. If a bus is idle for longer than 10 minutes, a $30 fine. Longer than 20 minutes, a $50 fine.
  • Maine specifically highlights the time period between May 1 and Columbus Day as when anti-idling laws are in effect and does not list specific fines.
  • Maryland has a fine of $500, taken from a site promoted by its Department of Energy.
  • Massachusetts has varying laws in varying parts of the state, but the state's general law states "not more than $100 for the first offense, nor more than $500 for each succeeding offense.
  • Minnesota has varying laws in the state, but in Minneapolis idling violations can cost you $200.
  • Missouri does not list specific fines.
  • Nevada has a tiered system that goes between $100 and $500 for the offense that rises all the way to $2,500 for the fourth offense.
  • New Hampshire does not list specific fines.
  • New Jersey has a fine of $200 for the first offense, $400 for the second offense, $1,000 for the third offense and $3,000 for all subsequent idling violations.
  • New York offers a lot of leeway. On the first offense, the fine should be between $375 and $15,000. On the subsequent offense, there's a maximum penalty of $22,500. New York City has fines between $100 and $2000.
  • Ohio has fines of $50 per each idling violation.
  • Oregon does not list specific fines.
  • Pennsylvania has varied fines, but in Allegheny County there's a warning for the first violation, $100 for the second violation and $300 for the third. In Philadelphia, there's just a $300 fine.
  • Rhode Island has a maximum fine of $50.
  • South Carolina does not list specific fines.
  • Texas has fines that vary by area, but none that were readily available.
  • Utah has fines that vary by area and rise with how late payment of the fine is, starting at $15 and rising up to $125.
  • Vermont does not list specific fines.
  • Virginia has fines that vary by area. In Arlington County, idling violations cost $50. Fines should not exceed $25,000.
  • Washington does not list specific fines.
  • West Virginia has fines between $150 and $300.
  • Wisconsin has fines that vary per area in the state. In Madison, it's $25-$200 for the first violation and for a second violation within 12 months, it's $50-$200.
  • Wyoming has fines of $60.

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