Chicago Winter

Is It Illegal to Warm Up Your Car in Illinois? Here's What State Law Says

In early 2021, the Chicago Police Department warned residents of a string of vehicle thefts involving unattended cars

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With temperatures already falling as winter nears, spending time outside has become unpleasant as has sitting inside a cold vehicle, waiting for it to warm up.

For those who don't have remote start, warming up your car may be appealing, although it does come with risks.

But in Illinois, can you legally do so? The short answer is no.

Illinois is one of many states that have implemented laws against leaving motor vehicles unattended.

"...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.

Using a remote start is permitted, however.

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

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

The Chicago Police Department warned against doing so in a tweet earlier this year, 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!!!"

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