It’s Illegal to Leave Your Car Running and Unattended in Texas
It's so cold in Texas right now, you're probably trying to think of ways to stay warm for as long as possible. Ways like throwing your jeans into the dryer for 10 minutes before putting them on in the morning or holding a cup of coffee just because it's warm.
One thing I noticed is that a few of my friends are leaving their cars on for a while in order to heat it up before actually settling in to drive. Well, leaving your keys in the ignition while the car is on and unattended happens to be illegal. This law is in effect in Texas and multiple other states.
Texas Transportation Code states that it's a Class C misdemeanor that could wind up costing you as much as $500. The main reason for this law is to protect you by limiting the amount of vehicle owners becoming victims of car theft. The FBI reports about 500,000 vehicles are stolen in any given year - half of which are from driver error (leaving your car on unattended's a big one).
Here's the actual lingo from the code:
Sec. 545.404. UNATTENDED MOTOR VEHICLE. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), an operator may not leave a vehicle unattended without:
(1) stopping the engine;
(2) locking the ignition;
(3) removing the key from the ignition;
(4) setting the parking brake effectively; and
(5) if standing on a grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.
(b) The requirements of Subsections (a)(1), (2), and (3) do not apply to an operator who starts the engine of a vehicle by using a remote starter or other similar device that:
(1) remotely starts the vehicle's engine without placing the key in the ignition; and
(2) requires the key to be placed in the ignition or physically present in the vehicle before the vehicle can be operated.
It appears there is a clause that says this law is not necessarily enforceable on private property (ie; driveways). And this law doesn't apply to keyless or remote starters.
Sec. 542.001. VEHICLES ON HIGHWAYS. A provision of this subtitle relating to the operation of a vehicle applies only to the operation of a vehicle on a highway unless the provision specifically applies to a different place.
Either way, is it really worth risking your car being stolen to get a little heat going in your vehicle before work? Seriously, try the pants in the dryer deal - it's a lifesaver, plus you don't risk getting your pants stolen.