Colder Temperatures Reignite Car Idling Debate

Detroit Parking Ticket Lawyer

Readers of The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog may remember two articles from this past summer that documented the saga of a Michigan man receiving a ticket for warming up his car one winter morning. Nick Taylor Trupiano, age 24 and of Roseville, Michigan, started his car in his driveway one morning in January of 2017. Taylor went back in his house to wait for it to warm up, but when he went back out to his car, was shocked to find a ticket on the windshield. The ticket read, “Vehicle parked in drive with keys in the ignition, motor running -- no one around."

Trupiano, angry and confused by the $128 fine, posted a picture of the ticket on Facebook, along with a heated description of the situation. The post was shared over 14,000 times. Facebook users were both angered at the Roseville Police Department for the bizarre ticket, and concerned that the same thing could happen to them. The Roseville Police Department responded, saying that, by leaving the car on with the keys in the ignition, Trupiano was “putting the public at risk” and creating a “public safety issue.” Essentially, Trupiano was leaving the car open to being stolen, since it was sitting in public view with the keys in the ignition. The law that Trupiano was ticketed under was put in place in order to deter carjackings. Had he started his car with a remote starter, it would have been fine. It’s the fact that the keys were in the ignition, making it fairly easy to steal the car, that was the issue. Trupiano fought the ticket, but lost, and was forced to pay the fine.

Many Michigan residents were concerned that the same thing could happen to them, since it's common for Michiganders in the middle of a harsh, typical winter to warm their cars up while they wait inside. Agreeing with Michigan citizens, Representative Holly Hughes introduced Bill 4215, a bill that would make it legal to leave a car running with the keys in the ignition so long as it was on private property. The bill passed the Michigan House of Representatives, and Governor Rick Snyder officially signed it into law on June 28, 2017. To be clear, it is still illegal to leave a car running with the keys in the ignition on public roads and freeways.

Detroit Snow Car Accident Lawyer

While the bill may have alleviated many Michigan residents’ fears about being ticketed for warming up their car in the winter, what was lost in the debate is whether or not cars even need to be warmed up in the winter. The short answer is, no. The idea that drivers need to warm up their vehicles before driving in the winter does stem from some truth, but doesn’t carry much weight now. According to the Washington Post, it is true that a vehicle's fuel economy does decrease significantly in colder temperatures, and it does take longer for the engine to warm up to its optimal temperature in the winter. More so, vehicles manufactured with carburetors do need to be warmed up in order to work well and prevent the car from stalling. However, automobile manufacturers stopped using carburetors by the mid 1990s, and began using electronic fuel injections. Electronic fuel injections can monitor and adjust to the temperature, so warming up isn’t necessary. As a result, modern vehicles don’t need to be warmed up for more than 30 seconds before driving - the engine will warm up faster while being driven than it would will idling in the driveway.

In short, if you’re warming up your vehicle to help your engine, that really isn’t necessary. But if you idle your car in the morning simply so your car is warm and you don’t have to spend the first 10 minutes of your commute in an icebox, that’s a different story! Many drivers warm up their car for comfort, but it’s important to consider the economic and environmental implications. Idling your car not only wastes fuel (and thereby wastes money) but it also gives off greenhouse gas emissions. A 2009 study found that idling cars account for 1.6% of all greenhouse gas emissions in America. While some idling, such as idling in traffic, is unavoidable, idling in the driveway is not. That same study found that based on the price of fuel in 2009, Americans could save $5.9 billion a year on fuel costs if drivers would cut out unnecessary idling.

Whether you decide to idle your car in the morning or not is up to you. But if you do decide to idle your car, make sure you do so in your driveway, where it is now legal. Do so on a public street, and you are fair game for a ticket.


While accidents can happen any time of year, driving in snowy and icy conditions can be especially challenging, and can lead to winter weather car accidents. If you have been involved in an automobile accident due to winter road conditions, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

Update: Roseville, Michigan Man Ticketed For Warming Up His Car

The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog recently informed blog readers of an incident that happened last winter when a Roseville, Michigan man left his car running in his driveway with the keys still in the ignition. Nick Taylor Trupiano, 24, was given a $128 ticket that he felt was unfair. He conveyed his upset by posting a picture of the citation and a verbal rant on his Facebook page, on which the Roseville police received unkind remarks. The post led to many other Michigan residents to being concerned on how they could warm up their vehicles in the winter without being charged for endangering the public.  

Michigan Winter Car Crash Lawyer


Following this incident, Republican Rep. Holly Hughes introduced Bill 4215 that would allow citizens to leave their keys in the ignition while the car is running on private property - at their own risk. The bill passed in the House and Governor Rick Snyder just officially signed it into law on June 28, 2017. It should be noted however that the bill does not allow for citizens to leave their cars unattended and idle while on the freeway, but only on their private property. 

Another piece of legislature that Snyder approved was for drivers to show proof of their vehicle’s registration by phone or another electronic form along with their auto insurance when asked by a police officer. This measure will help those who like the convenience of having their documents on their phone or simply want to be green, by using less paper.

Now with the bill signed into law, many Michigan residents can rest easy when warming up their cars during the colder weather months. While this news may cause citizens of Michigan to rejoice, they should remember that a car that is left running for more than 10 minutes is essentially wasting gas, while polluting the environment, and causing damage to their car's engine. In fact, most people who live in cold areas don't even realize that warming up their car by letting it idle isn't even practical. Global News was informed by Car Help consultant, Mohamed Bouchama, that, “the car warms up much faster when it’s driving than when it’s idling...As long as your windows and mirrors are clear of snow and frost, you’re good to go." In other words, Michiganders should just take the time to start the car, clear the windows, and then drive, this winter. 


Bill 4215 has saved many motorists from being fined for something most believed was perfectly legal. However, motorists should still be careful of leaving their keys in the car where any person passing by could potentially steal the vehicle. If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.