Police Warn Drivers They Could Face Fines For Warming Vehicles While Unattended

Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse Prohibit Unattended Idling, Leaving Keys In Unattended Vehicles

car exhaust winter
Michael Probst/AP Photo

Despite the frigid weather, police in some Wisconsin cities are warning drivers they could be fined for letting their cars warm up unless they’re sitting inside them.

Since 1972 it’s been illegal to warm up your vehicle in Eau Claire while it’s unattended. And if your car is stolen as a result, you’re likely to get a fine of more than $200 from the city.

Police Department Community Relations Officer Kyle Roder said the ordinance is aimed at preventing cars from being stolen.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“The goal is really for people to be proactive so that they don’t become a target or a victim of crime or in this case auto theft, and unfortunately each year we do see vehicles that are stolen because they are left unsecured with the engine running and the keys in the ignition,” said Roder.

In October, two vehicles were stolen in Eau Claire after being left running while unattended. He said in both cases the owners were cited.

“We do see a lot of tickets issued for this when a vehicle is stolen,” said Roder. “So, unfortunately if somebody leaves their vehicle unattended with the engine running and their vehicle gets stolen they typically will get a citation for that on top of it.”

Madison, Milwaukee, Chippewa Falls and La Crosse have similar ordinances that prohibit drivers from warming unattended vehicles or leaving keys in unattended cars.