In Michigan, it’s illegal to leave a car running and unattended, no matter where the vehicle is, whether it’s on the side of the highway or in your own driveway.
As with most traffic laws, the police cite safety concerns. They say that anyone can come by and steal the car. And that could lead to dangerous, high-speed chases.
As you can imagine, this is a common occurrence in Michigan, especially in winter. Back in January, 24-year-old Taylor Trupiano of Roseville was picking up his girlfriend and her 2-year-old son who has cerebral palsy. He left the car on to warm it up, while he went in the house to get the two. He left his car unattended for probably 10 minutes or so. (According to Trupiano, it was “seven or eight minutes,” and according to the police it was “10 to 12 minutes.”)
An angry Trupiano posted an image of the ticket to Facebook, garnering over 14,000 shares and mostly positive (on his side), but mixed reactions. He wrote: “Let’s all take a moment to thank officer dips**t K. Keary for wasting the taxpayer’s money and giving me a ticket for warming up my car in my own damn driveway.”
Later, Trupiano softened his tone toward the cop, admitting that he was obviously upset by the ticket – which came with a $128 fine – over something so trivial. He said he appreciates what cops do but wondered if there were more important things for them to spend their time on. From his perspective, it seemed more like an excuse for the city to make money.
According to the Roseville city attorney Tim Tomlinson, just a couple weeks after this citation was issued in early January, they had two similar cases where running and unattended cars were stolen. One of the cases led to high-speed chase, and in the other case, there were two kids inside.
On Thursday, Trupiano – with the assistance of his attorney Nicholas Somberg – tried to get the ticket thrown out But the judge saw no problem with the citation and said the car was in a place generally accessible to the public. “I think it was reasonable the officer issued the ticket,” he said.
Trupiano said he fought the ticket for two reasons — first, the principle of the matter, saying a person should be able to warm up their own vehicle in their driveway; and because secondly, “I think it’s a little unfair. I think they want the money.”
Trupiano said he didn’t want his girlfriend’s son, who has cerebral palsy, to have to get into a cold car on a freezing day. He said he sees valets, delivery drivers, school bus drivers and even police leave their cars running and unattended for various reasons.
Somberg said he thinks there is case law to support his position and he said he was surprised by the ruling.
It wasn’t all bad for Trupiano and all those who like to warm up their cars in their driveways. Shortly after he posted his citation to Facebook, a state representative drafted a bill that would make it so that you could legally warm up your car in your own driveway. The bill – HB 4215 – made it out of committee, but it hasn’t yet been voted on in the full House.
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