Is it Permissible to Idle Your Car Unattended in West Virginia?
Winter is just around the corner, which will bring freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, many of us still have to go to work, which requires us to drive. No one, me included, wants to battle the cold, especially in the early morning or late at night, without first warming up their vehicle. Many people now have automatic starters, but some of us, like me, have to start our vehicle the old-fashioned way by putting a key in the ignition.
Whichever way you start your vehicle, most people like to get their vehicle nice and toasty before heading out to their destination, which made me wonder whether it’s ok to idle your car while unattended in West Virginia. We all do it, but I never really thought about whether it’s permissible in West Virginia.
In researching this question, I found that prior to 2018, it was not permissible, and you could be found guilty of a misdemeanor. Specifically, prior to 2018, WV Code §17C-14-1 – “Unattended motor vehicle; penalty” stated as follows:
(a) 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, and effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.
(b) Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars; upon a second conviction within one year thereafter, shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars; and upon a third or subsequent conviction, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars.
In 2018, the law was repealed by House Bill 2612, making it permissible to idle your car unattended in West Virginia. Although it is permissible in West Virginia, there are still many other states where it is not permissible. So, before you decide to leave your car running for any reason, even to warm it up, be sure to check your state law, as you may be surprised by the penalties.
Hope everyone stays safe and warm this winter!