An Idaho legislator has introduced a bill to remove a little-known restriction from Idaho law that he said appears to make it illegal to remotely start your car to warm it up, at least on public streets and roads.
The provision, contained in the section of state law dealing with “Rules of the Road,” prohibits a driver from allowing a vehicle “to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the parking brake, and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.”
Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, pitched his bill this week to the House Transportation Committee. He got an affirmative vote to introduce it, clearing the way for a full hearing.
“The wording of the Unattended Motor Vehicle code written in years past prohibits a driver, perhaps unintentionally, from remotely starting a vehicle,” Harris wrote in the measure’s Statement of Purpose. “The wording also appears to prohibit a driver from starting a vehicle ahead of time to warm up the interior in cold weather.”
His bill, he wrote, “would allow such activities.” Harris would strike the part about stopping the engine and removing the key, and add instead that a driver should lock the vehicle if it is running.
But before jumping to the conclusion that anyone who’s warmed up their car during this year’s frigid winter is an out-and-out scofflaw, it’s worth noting that the “Rules of the Road” code section states at its outset that it applies “exclusively to the operation of vehicles upon highways.”
Just to be sure, Harris’ bill would add a line to the law saying, “The provisions of this section do not apply to motor vehicles on private property.”