By Frank Lewis
According to the Ohio Revised Code, starting your car and leaving it unattended is illegal — even just stepping away while it warms up could result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $150.
ORC 4511.661(a) reads, “No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the parking brake, and, when the motor vehicle is standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.”
The requirements of this section relating to the stopping of the engine, locking of the ignition, and removing the key from the ignition, however, does not apply to an emergency or public safety vehicle.
The Daily Times asked Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware if that law is effected by remote starters which allow a car to run with the doors locked, and come with other theft-resistant features.
“That law has not been updated in the 20 years I’ve worked here,” Ware said. “What I do, when I start mine, is, I lock it with the keyless remote. The intent is for you not to leave your car running with the key in the ignition where somebody can open your door and steal it. But as technology has advanced, you have all these other methods of starting your car, and they have never updated the law.”
Ware said, by City Ordinance, members of his department have the right to, if they see a car running unattended, take the keys from the ignition. But Ware said they don’t take that action.
ORC 4511.661 (b) reads, “Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.”
Furthermore, since the law does not specifically exclude private property from that statute, you can be cited for leaving the car running in your very own driveway.
So you just might want to weigh your decision when you get up and its 10 below and you want your car to be toasty warm when you get in, knowing that, though it will most likely not be enforced, you can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.