Want to Warm Up Your Car in Illinois? You’d Be Breaking the Law
For those of us who love fall, we can't say that the weather in the Tri-States disappointed over the last two months. Many days were in the 70s, and even the days in the 50s and 60s were complemented by sun. That changed almost instantly after Halloween, with temps plateauing in the 30s. The "Hibernation Zone" we were warned about seems to be in full swing!
Unless you have automatic start in your car, you might be tempted to let your car "warm up," so to speak, by starting it well in advance of you leaving for work or the grocery store. Be warned, however, that if you live in Illinois, warming up your vehicle (or leaving it in its "idling" state) could get you in some trouble with the law.
Back in 2017, the Illinois General Assembly essentially made it illegal to warm up your vehicle in Illinois, as asinine as that sounds:
Sec. 11-1401. Unattended motor vehicles. Except for a law enforcement officer or an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle performing his or her official duties, no person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any perceptible grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway. An unattended motor vehicle shall not include an unattended locked motor vehicle with the engine running after being started by a remote starter system.
In short, the law states that unless you are a police officer or the operator of an emergency vehicle, you are forbidden from leaving your car running unless you are in the driver's seat.
That said, those with automatic start installed in their vehicle are ostensibly exempt from the legislature. The law's language of "removing the key from the ignition" implies this is exclusive to those who must manually start their vehicles.
As for how punitive such a (clearly) criminal offense would be for the driver, exact dollar amounts for the fine are unclear. This is probably because, while it's a law, it's not one many police officers are quick to enforce. One source claims the fine could run up to $250.
Iowa had a similar legislature in place, but it was significantly amended in March 2017.
I am far too paranoid of a person to leave my car running unattended. I don't care if it's below zero outside. I'll always shut my car off when I go inside places. My fear of carjackings won't allow me to leave my car running at a gas station, let alone my own garage. Call it Chicago's lasting effect on me!
Even if you are gumptious enough to leave your car running in order for it to warm up, know the risk you run in the state of Illinois: both from a safety and a legal standpoint.