Saturday, April 22, 2017
Laws With Good Intentions Have Undesirable Consequences
Man guilty of leaving car idling in driveway, fine: $128
USA TODAY NETWORKChristina Hall, Detroit Free Press7:49 p.m. ET April 21, 2017
A Roseville, Michigan man received a $128 citation for warming his car up in his own driveway. Keri Lumm (@thekerilumm) reports. Buzz60
Taylor Trupiano, 24, who lives in this suburb about 20 miles north of Detroit, was warming up his car in his driveway Jan. 5 when he ran inside to get his girlfriend and her 2-year-old son. That 10 minutes or so was enough time for a Roseville officer to issue him a citation because he was in violation of a state law intended to hamper car theft.
Trupiano's vehicle was left "wide open" near the bottom of his driveway about 2 feet from the sidewalk, City Attorney Tim Tomlinson said.
Less than two weeks later, two vehicles were stolen, both from people who started their vehicles and left them unattended. One lead to a high-speed chase and another occurred when a car was taken with two children inside, the city attorney said.
"There is an important public safety goal this is trying to achieve by having these regulations on the books," Tomlinson said.
Trupiano said he fought the ticket because he thinks people should be able to warm up their own cars in their own driveways. He considers the citation another way for municipalities to raise money.
He also didn't want his girlfriend's son, who has cerebral palsy, to get into a cold car on a freezing day, he said. He sees valets, delivery drivers, school bus drivers and even police leave their cars running and unattended for various reasons.
"That's a little upsetting," Trupiano said after the hearing. He doesn't think the ordinance "applies to my private property."
Lest you think that Michigan is alone, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists various regulations in 30 states — not including Michigan — and the District of Columbia on idling a vehicle. Most of the rules apply specifically to diesel trucks and are intended to curb air pollution, but Massachusetts and Utah state laws may allow similar ticketing.
Trupiano's attorney, Nicholas Somberg, was surprised with the ruling from Judge Marco Santia of 39th District Court here and said he thinks that case law supports his client's position.
In a separate matter, Santia cited Somberg for contempt of court for live-streaming the first part of Thursday's hearing on Somberg's Facebook page without notifying the court or asking permission to do so. Somberg's hearing is May 25.
In January, Trupiano posted a picture of his ticket on Facebook with a comment, and it was shared more than 14,000 times.
The reaction to his citation has resulted in Michigan House Bill 4215 being filed in the Michigan Legislature, and the state House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed an amended bill March 28 that would still result in an infraction of a person left a stopped car running on a highway. The legislation still would need to pass the full state House and Senate and get the governor's signature before changing Michigan law.