Montana legalizes leaving cars unattended to warm up - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Montana legalizes leaving cars unattended to warm up

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During winter months, it's common to start and run a car for a few minutes before getting inside. But in Montana, state code outlawed the practice of leaving a running car unattended. Several other states also have similar laws, including Ohio and Texas. Many of the laws are intended to reduce vehicle theft.

State Rep. Alan Doane, R-Bloomfield, said he was surprised when he heard about Montana's law. Technologies like remote-start allow vehicles to start and warm up without a key in the ignition.

"I did find it interesting that it was a police officer that alerted me to it," Doane said. "Try to find a jury of your peers who would convict you for warming up your car in Montana. So I thought, 'The law needs to keep up with the times.' The time the original law was written, auto-start technology and things like were not even thought of."

Nonetheless, some cities may still have municipal codes against leaving cars running. Missoula city code 10.14.050 states: "No person driv­ing or in charge of any motor vehicle except a licensed delivery truck or other delivery vehicle, shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition and removing the key. No vehicle shall be permitted to stand unattended upon any perceptible grade, without stopping the engine and effectively setting the brake thereon, and turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the street."

Click here to view Doane's bill amending the rules for unattended motor vehicles. It took effect in Feb. 2017.

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