Is It Legal to Warm Up Your Car in Massachusetts?
The temperatures are getting cooler, Massachusetts! Especially in the mornings. Soon, those much colder temps are going to be a regular thing as we inch our way closer to the holiday season. But hey, if you have a remote starter for your vehicle, that shouldn't be a problem...or should it?
It is a fantastic feeling to jump into a car that is all sorts of nice and toasty since you have been warming it up for a few minutes. And it's good for your vehicle in general since you allow your engine to get warm after being shut off for so long.
But, not so fast! It seems that warming your car up in Massachusetts is, in fact, illegal. The General Laws of Massachusetts state under Chapter 90, Section 16a that:
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the unnecessary operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while said vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes...Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars for the first offense, nor more than five hundred dollars for each succeeding offense.
Basically it means that you cannot let your vehicle run idle while unattended for five minutes or more. However, the law also states that if you are delivering or accepting goods, or the vehicle is being serviced, then it's okay to be idling for a time in excess of five minutes.
That being said, how about those fees for the offense? For the first offense, it's $100, but then up to $500 for a second offense and all those after? Geez! That's a little steep just for wanting to get into a warm car in the dead of winter. Unfortunately, that's the law.
The reason for the law is air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency has helped to implant laws against this in more than two-dozen states, while several cities and counties also enforce laws against a specified amount of how much time a vehicle can remain idle when unattended.
In any event, you could always just cheat the five-minute rule and jump in your car just under the five minutes. I mean, I haven't seen if that works, or if there is someone who is surveilling your vehicle for that full five minutes just to make sure you are abiding by that particular law and not trying to cheat the system. Either way, stay warm and take care of your vehicles this winter, Massachusetts!