Ask a trooper: Your town may have ordinance against leaving a vehicle running

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Question: I do not have a remote starter installed on my car. Is it illegal to leave it running while I go inside my house as it warms up and defrosts the windows?

Answer: There is no state law that prohibits leaving your vehicle running, but most cities have local ordinances against it. Check your local city ordinances in reference to this rule.

Leaving your vehicle running unattended is also an invitation for thieves. Just the other day, there was an attempt to locate a stolen vehicle that occurred, while the owner left the vehicle running unattended. This happens far too often.

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There are many vehicle thefts involving unattended vehicles with the keys inside, doors unlocked and engine running. This makes it very easy for auto thieves to steal your vehicle. Get into the habit of locking your vehicle each time you are going to leave it and take the keys with you.

By following the below tips, you can reduce your chances of having your vehicle and/or your property stolen.

Never leave your vehicle running unattended.

Never leave your keys in the vehicle.

Always lock your vehicle.

Look at purchasing a remote car starter as most of them have built-in security features while your vehicle is running to prevent the vehicle from being driven.

Don’t leave valuables in plain sight. Place valuable items in the trunk if you can’t take them with you.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,