Ask a Dispatcher
Q. Is there a law against having your car running while you're not in it?
Dear Juneau Resident,
With people starting to run cars to warm them up, this is a timely question and one JPD is happy to answer since we have had lots of stolen car cases that began with a running, unlocked, unattended vehicle.
Here is what the Alaska Administrative Code says:
13 AAC 02.480. Unattended motor vehicle
No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle may permit it to stand unattended by an adult person without first stopping the engine, placing the transmission in gear or in park position, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition and, if there is not a reasonable possibility of freezing, setting the brake. When standing upon a grade, a driver shall turn the front wheels toward the curb or near the edge of the highway in such a manner that if the unattended vehicle should roll from its standing position, the movement will be in the direction toward the curb or near the edge of the highway and away from the roadway.
Now, is JPD running around writing tickets to people who have vehicles warming up in their driveways? No. But when we go to a call where an unattended vehicle went rolling down the street with no driver we make it very clear to the responsible person that they did violate the law and are responsible for the damage resulting from their unattended vehicle.
JPD does charge someone who takes a running and unattended vehicle with stealing the car. After all that person did know it wasn't their car. If that stolen vehicle is damaged and the owner wants to make an insurance claim, the insurance company might take issue with paying for a car that was left running and unattended in violation of the law. You might want to check your policy to see if you are covered if the car is left running and unattended.