Leaving cars to warm up in the winter could lead to a ticket

TROY, N.Y. – During the winter months, it is common for people to warm up their cars while they continue to get ready for work or school, but an unattended vehicle can be an unintended violation of the law.

Troy Police Officer Brian Strock was patrolling on Monday when he spotted an unattended car.

Strock explained that while the car was locked, it was still technically unattended. That is because Section 1210 of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law makes it illegal for a driver to leave a vehicle without stopping the engine, locking the ignition and removing the key from the car.

The driver stopped by Strock learned the hard way about the law.

Officer Strock says it is important for drivers to follow the law or they could be at risk of having their vehicle stolen.

Stephen Britten had his key in the ignition when someone stole his vehicle.

“I put the car seats back in the car started up to get it warm, went up to grab my kids who were ready to go,” explained Britten, “and my car was gone.”

Britten says that during the cold winter months he's always let his car warm up before getting in, having no idea there was a law that made it illegal to leave it unattended.

“If it's really cold outside and I have children, it's nice to be able to put them in a warm car,” said Britten.

“We like to educate people if we believe it was a mistake,” said Officer Strock.

However, on Monday, Strock felt like he had no choice but to write a ticket because “he felt like he did not to anything wrong.”

There is an exception to the the law, however. If a remote control starter is installed in a vehicle and is used, it is not a violation because a key is not in the ignition.

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