Skip to main content

Idle threat: Empty cars left running could mean tickets

  • Author:
  • Updated:

This week there was snow, there was wind, there were school cancellations, and now there will be bitter cold.

It's the time of year when we dress up in layers, find our warmest coats, don gloves and boots, and when "hat hair" comes back in-style.

The calendar says December, so there's no point in denying what we each already know, winter is back in Minnesota.

Who hasn't run out to their car before their shower in the morning to warm up the vehicle for the commute to work? Most of us probably have done that already this week, maybe even this morning.

Well, we may want to rethink that last one. Did you know in Minneapolis it is illegal to let your vehicle idle for more than 3 minutes if the temperature is above zero? Even if you knew, do you abide by the law, asks WCCO.

For those of us at the start of the winter dealing with cold fingers and toes that law may seem a little silly right now. But the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says there are a few things to consider.

The MPCA says that car exhaust isn't good for anyone's lungs, but especially for children whose lungs are still developing. That will give you something to think about while you are waiting in lines to pick up the kids from school or when you let the car run while you drop them off at daycare.

Additionally the MPCA says that exhaust from idling vehicles contains more pollutants than moving vehicles.

In addition to the environmental benefits there are other reasons not to allow your vehicle to idle unattended. Minneapolis police said last January they averaged about a car theft a day when the weather turned cold, according to a KSTP report.

Around the Twin Cities the laws vary by city. For example in Bloomington you can idle your car as long as you like anywhere as long as it's locked. Edina allows you to idle the vehicle on private property, but if you are on a city street, you cannot leave your car running with keys in the ignition. It's the same in St. Paul, no idling with keys in the ignition on public property, but if police catch you, they can take your key out and keep it at the station until you come to pick it up.

The Twin Cities aren't alone, several major cities around the country, including New York have laws that restrict vehicle idling. Although many of those areas have trouble consistently enforcing the law.

Next Up

Gov. Tim Walz and Scott Jensen.

Walz, Jensen clash over 'extreme' abortion views

The two clashed over the topic on Tuesday, following the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 12.24.27 PM

Movie filming brings memorable day for MN teen with leukemia

Ayotzin Limon-Millard was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last year.

Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 1.25.30 PM

Police trying to ID 'Playboy bandit' and 'no-pants raider' suspect

Police are calling the unidentified man "the Playboy bandit" and the "no-pants raider."

storm, severe, shelf cloud

Twin Cities under severe thunderstorm watch Tuesday afternoon

Large hail and damaging winds are the main threats.

Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 9.27.30 AM

Famous Dave's family brings new BBQ biz to the south metro

The newest Twin Cities location is the first to offer wine slushies on the menu.

storm, shelf cloud, severe weather

Large hail possible with strong storms in eastern MN, WI

Watch the forecast update with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin governor

WI governor vows to protect anyone charged with abortion crimes

“You think it’s bad now? The four Republicans that are going after me, one of them we’re going to beat, they are going to make it worse," Evers said.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, June 28

The state will stop providing daily updates and move to weekly editions beginning Thursday, June 30.


Sports anchor Hobie Artigue announces FOX9 departure

Artigue has spent the past seven years covering Minnesota sports.

hennepin county medical center

Boy, 7, dies after being pulled from pool in south Minneapolis

The boy was pulled from a pool at a home in south Minneapolis.

Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 8.32.18 AM

Nashville man leaving wedding shot in the face in Minneapolis

He was leaving a wedding when gunfire erupted near the Stone Arch Bridge Saturday night.


Abogados Café in St. Paul is the first law-themed coffee shop in America

The new business is Minnesota's first Latina-owned coffee shop.