Is it illegal to let your car warm up unattended?

Published: Jan. 6, 2014 at 9:14 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM CST
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - There's no doubt that leaving your car unattended while it warms up is a risk, but could you be held responsible if your car is stolen?

Leaving a vehicle unattended with the keys still in the ignition - whether it's running or not - is a violation of the Texas Transportation Code. People who do this could find themselves not only filing a police report for their stolen vehicle, but also paying a $500 ticket because leaving your car running is a Class C Misdemeanor.

"Today is one of those days where people want to get outside and get their car warmed up. If they have to leave it outside overnight, they've got frost on their windows and you can't drive off with frost on your windows... you can't see. So, you have to sit there and let it warm up and let it defrost. Most people are going to go back into their house and let that happen," explains Tyler Police Department Officer Don Martin.

Tyler Police say their main concern is auto theft prevention. They're not out looking for people who have left their cars running, even though it is against the law. However, leaving an unattended vehicle running with children inside of it can lead to more serious charges, like child endangerment.

Local auto insurance companies say, typically, auto insurance will cover auto theft even if the keys were left in the car or the car was left running. However, the vehicle owner can expect to get stuck in a 30-day holding period while the insurance company waits to see if the stolen vehicle turns up.

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