In The News

In The News

Sunday, January 29, 2017

You May be Violating the Law When You Warm Up Your Vehicle in Cold Michigan

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Stephanie Tzafaroglou

Cold winter temperatures are back with the January thaw apparently over. Make sure you do not land yourself police contact or a ticket in order to try to avoid the frigid cold. A Roseville man recently made headlines for receiving a ticket when he turned on his car and left it unattended one winter morning. The Roseville Police Department issued the ticket under the City Code of Ordinances. Many cities have ordinances that prohibit leaving a vehicle running with keys in the ignition - even if just to warm up the vehicle for a few minutes. The concern is that this conduct - even if you just want to get your engine warmed up and the inside a little more bearable - increases the possibility of car theft. For example, the City of Flint’s Code of Ordinance 28-102 states:

No person shall leave a motor vehicle, except a commercial motor vehicle, unattended on any street, alley, used car lot, or unattended parking lot, without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key and taking it with him or her; provided, however, that any violation of these provisions shall not mitigate the offense of stealing such motor vehicle, nor shall such violation be used to effect a recovery in any civil action for theft of the motor vehicle, or the insurance thereon, or have any other bearing in any civil action.

Whenever any police officer of the City of Flint shall find any vehicle standing in violation of the foregoing provision, such police officer is authorized and directed to issue a traffic summons for the violation and then remove therefrom the keys left therein and deliver the same to the Officer in Charge of the Patrol Division at the Police Station, or to impound said vehicle, at the direction of the Commanding Officer, in the event that the ignition is left in the unlocked position with no keys.

Similar provisions are not found in the Michigan Motor Vehicle code. State law requires only that a vehicle be placed in park. MCL 257.676 states:

(1) A person shall not allow a motor vehicle to stand on a highway unattended without engaging the parking brake or placing the vehicle in park and stopping the motor of the vehicle. If the vehicle is standing upon a grade, the front wheels of the vehicle shall be turned to the curb or side of the highway.

(2) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction.

For the team of lawyers who know the details of the Michigan Vehicle Code and who are committed to results, Contact the Nichols Law Firm at (517) 432-9000 or

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Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.