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car exhaust pipe blowing smoke while it's idling

What Is Idling & Why Is it Harmful?

In 2019, the annual INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard ranked New York City as the 4th most congested city in the US and the 13th most congested city in the world. According to the US Department of Energy, researchers estimate that idling from heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel annually, and about half of that comes from personal vehicles, which generate around 30 million tons of CO2 every year.

As such, it is no surprise that city officials are constantly working to reduce the carbon footprint and other threats associated with idling. During a time in which people are staying at home and away from the public to stop the spread of COVID-19, it can be beneficial to learn the rules and consequences of idling.

Idling occurs when a motor vehicle is running while stopped, or not in motion. Many cities across the country have prioritized idling as a primary “no-no” by implementing and enforcing tough rules on both regular motorists and commercial drivers. A relevant example of idling during the coronavirus pandemic is when drivers pick up their food from restaurants rather than dining in. In doing so, they tend to leave their car’s engine running while parked as they “quickly” grab their food from inside. Or if they opt for curbside delivery, drivers will wait in their parked vehicles with the engine running until a restaurant worker delivers their food.

While these actions seem perfectly legal and harmless, they can instantly become illegal because of their harmful effects.

The New York City Administrative Code, Title 24, Section 24-163 establishes that no person should allow the engine of a motor vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while parking, standing, or stopping. However, there are two exceptions to this rule, and they apply to the following:

  1. Legally authorized emergency motor vehicles
  2. Vehicles whose engine is used to operate a loading, unloading or processing device

In addition, the legal idling time reduces from three minutes to one minute around public and private school facilities, giving you little time to idle in these areas before it becomes a violation. If a judge finds you guilty of idling, you may suffer added driving points to your record, increased insurance premiums and the following fines:

  • 1st offense: $300 to $1,000
  • 2nd offense: $460 to $1,500
  • 3rd offense: $620 to $2,000

You might be wondering what exactly idling does to the environment. We’ve already mentioned that it is harmful to the environment, now let’s elaborate further:

  • Idling causes air pollution: Idling vehicles release harmful chemicals, gases and particle pollution into the air.
  • Idling wastes money: The more fuel your vehicle burns, the more money you waste.
  • Idling is bad for your health: The toxins released from idling vehicles go into the air we breathe, which correlates to cancer, asthma and other serious health effects.
  • Idling damages your vehicle: Modern-day vehicle engines do not, in fact, benefit from a “warm-up” (i.e. waiting one minute or more before driving your car) and vehicle parts do not wear out from being turned off and on. Thus, idling does not help your vehicle but instead may do the opposite.

Did You Get an Idling Ticket?

If you are summonsed for a municipal code violation like idling, you must not hesitate to contact Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. right away. Idling violations have different administrative proceedings, therefore you need a lawyer who is deeply familiar and experienced in that area of law. Our New York traffic ticket lawyer is equipped to advocate for your best interests by helping to minimize the consequences of your idling ticket.

Call (212) 235-1525 to get started!

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