I left for Arizona on November 7th, and flew back in on November 14. While I was gone, it snowed! Williston got a nervous 9 inches and Bismarck got 24 inches. With all the snow, and the cold that comes with it, I hit the button on my remote to start my car. I wanted to get into a nice warm vehicle. As I waited for my luggage, I started to wonder if it's illegal to leave my car unattended while running.

Getty Image
Getty Image
Black Car Started

According to the North Dakota 'Rules of the Road,' NDCC 39-10-51 states:

No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle may permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, effectively setting the brake thereon, and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.

It does say that you are not supposed to leave your car unattended with the engine running. But, can you really be fined? The answer is yes. But will you be...probably not.

NDCC 39-10-51 was organized in 1955. With all the advancements in technology like remote car starters, keyless entry and push-button starts, this was not even considered as this stuff didn't exist way back when.

As currently codified, warming up your car or using a car starter without you being inside or near the vehicle is prohibited. An individual violating the statute is subject to a $20 fine.

I believe law enforcement is lenient and understanding with this statute because of the extreme cold North Dakotans have to deal with.

So, there you have it. Is it possible to get a $20.00 fine for starting your vehicle to warm it up? Yes. Is riding in a warm car worth the risk? I will take my chances!

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