Millions of Americans during the winter months, need to warm up their car before pursuing their daily routine. This is an incredibly crucial step to ensure they don’t leave home with a frozen engine block, blown radiator, or even worse issues.
As fall gradually gives way to winter, colder temperatures are to be expected, especially if you live in the Midwestern U.S. These cold temperatures will prompt motorists to warm up their vehicles before heading to work or school.
However, it’s treated as a crime in the state of Illinois. Oddly so, it’s also selectively enforced, so it may depend on the municipality that you live in.
For instance, in Chicago, leaving a vehicle unattended is a municipal vehicle code violation. The same applies in other Chicagoland-area municipalities as well as select cities and towns across the state.
…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 brake thereon, and, when standing upon any perceptible grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.
That quote above is from the Illinois state vehicle code. Oddly, there is no mention of the so-called illegality of allowing you to start your vehicle before going to work. The meaning is incredibly blurred and confusing, which may explain many different interpretations of the law.
Does remote starting your car even solve the problem?
Law enforcement states there is a way around it: using a remote start system.
For some vehicles, the feature is standard. In others, it either needs to be activated or you need to acquire an aftermarket system. For a very select few, their vehicle is incompatible with all remote start systems in the marketplace.
The law does not specify a vehicle started via a remote start system to be an “unattended motor vehicle.”
However, in Chicago, even that is being treated as an opening for more crime. According to the Chicago Police Department, they issued a warning about using remote start systems, citing a string of vehicle thefts.
“Vehicles that are left running continue to be taken in the 14th District and citywide,” CPD posted in a January 17 tweet. “Please do your part to protect yourself and your community. Giving away your car is a nice gesture but… TURN IT OFF AND TAKE THE KEYS!!!”
If you can’t even use remote start in Chicago, it makes Illinoisans elsewhere in the state wonder if they’re going to get a hefty ticket for starting their vehicles to warm up before their daily commute, whether the regular way or via remote start.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.