Are Illinois Residents Legally Allowed to Warm Up Their Cars Unattended?

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After one last taste of summer this week, cold temperatures are here to stay in the Chicago area for the upcoming months.

With high temperatures ranging in the 30s for much of the next week, Chicago-area residents are likely trying to get a head start on having a warm car to jump into before heading to work.

While many want to be able to start their car and then finish getting ready or shovel the driveway, Illinois is of many states that prohibit unattended cars running.

"...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," according to the state's vehicle code.

In Chicago, leaving a vehicle unattended is a municipal code violation, as is the case in other communities.

There is one way around it however: Using a remote start.

A vehicle turned on using a remote starter system is not classified an "unattended motor vehicle," the law says.

However, in 2021, the Chicago Police Department warned against doing so, noting a string of vehicle thefts in which offenders targeted unattended vehicles.

"Vehicles that are left running continue to be taken in the 14th District and citywide," the Jan. 17 tweet read. "Please do your part to protect yourself and your community. Giving away your car is a nice gesture but... TURN IT OF AND TAKE THE KEYS!!!"

And while temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s may feel cold, enjoy it while it lasts. According to a prediction from the Old Farmer's Almanac, parts of the upper Midwest, including the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, will potentially see “unreasonably cold and snowy” conditions this winter.

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