Is it illegal to warm up my car on my driveway?

By: Peter R. Certo, Jr. Attorney at Law

According to Ohio law, it is illegal to start your car, even on your own on your driveway, then go back in the house, to warm up and defrost the car when it is cold outside. Any car when running must be "attended". Even if it is locked you could be cited, pay up to $150 fine plus court costs (usually about $125). Frankly, it might even apply to a car in your garage with the door open. It absolutely applies to cars on the street.

See Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.661 which states "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 parking brake...". So much for the value of remote car starters.

This has been in effect since January 1, 2004. If you are cited a second time within one year it becomes a criminal offense with jail possible up to 30 days. A third offense can get you up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

On the face of the statute there are no exceptions to this law unless it is an emergency vehicle.

It's nice to know that the legislature thinks that when its 15 degrees below zero with a wind chill factor of 40 degrees below zero, or 100 degrees in the shade, it's safer to sit in your car and endure severe weather than let it warm up or cool down on your driveway.