Email from a reader, last name withheld as per privacy request
Hi there Justin, I happened to come across your article posted on Dec 14, 2009 about the Vancouver Police Dept (VPD) giving you a ticket for leaving your car on idle. I came across it in a Google search as I just got ticketed for the same thing by the VPD yesterday. I started my car with an alarm auto-starter inside my house and maybe went outside 5 to 10 minutes later (I think, wasn’t looking at the clock). The VPD cruiser was waiting for me on the other side of the street….which I thought was not good, but decided to walk to my car. They got out and ask me if I was me (I guess they ran my plate already).
They told me it was illegal to have my car running unattended. I told them I was warming it up and it’s in front of MY House (my house is a house…it’s in a residential area of East Van that isn’t scummy! The road out front is pretty much, I guess unofficially assumed, for MY house). The VPD told me it was illegal and took my Driver’s License and gave me a $81 ticket telling me this is how cars are stolen. I didn’t argue it, but my car doors were locked, there’s a red steering wheel lock engaged at the time, and the alarm is armed, and the car turns off if anybody touches the foot pedals or gears. They must have seen me with the car keys in hand, and me deactivating the alarm & unlocking the doors with my remote.
I agree with your article mostly. The police I dealt with was professional, and I know they only enforce the law, not make them. The law is retarded and whoever made and passed it is an idiot in my opinion. I’m not going to blame the police for this.
But here’s the thing, I went to school in Chemical Sciences with my major in Environmental Chemistry, I’ve worked in the industry for 5 years, then I became an Senior Auto Adjuster for a private insurance company for 5 years. I remember when the Idling bylaw came out, some jerk neighbor told me it’s against the law to leave my car idling, which pissed me off because she said it’s killing the environment. This made me take a good look at the bylaw at the time. I agree with your assessment with Aircare (which is a joke & cash grab if you ask me, large vehicles like buses & semi produce way more Carbon Monoxide & etc and they’re not tested. Even a lab instructor saw problems with their testing & told the class this). Also Idle vs driving the car for the same amount of time is the same. I also went another step, I talked to an Auto Appraiser who worked for my company who has over 50 years in the auto industry (he’s since retired recently, but he knows the inside & out of vehicles and how they work better than any mechanic & bodyman, he’s highly recognized in our industry). He looked at the law and thought it was joke too, he suspects it’s to prevent people from loitering downtown.
Anyways, he says everything the bylaw said about not needing to warm up and such was all BS, that you CAN damage your car by not warming it up, that the oil has to heat up and circulate.
Anyways it gets better though, so after I got the ticket….I went out for awhile, but when I got home I looked up the violation I was ticketed for under the Motor Vehicle Act (I worked as senior auto adjuster after all, I know how this stuff works). My violation is for MV 191(2)(a). Here’s the link: http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/freeside/–%20m%20–/motor%20vehicle%20act%20%20rsbc%201996%20%20c.%20318/00_act/96318_05.xml#section191
Leaving parked vehicle
191 (1) A motor vehicle must be equipped with a lock or other device to prevent the unauthorized use of the motor vehicle.
(2) A driver must not permit a motor vehicle to stand unattended or parked unless the driver has
(a) locked it or made it secure in a manner that prevents its unauthorized use, and
(b) if the motor vehicle is standing on a grade, turned the front wheels of the vehicle to the curb or side of the highway.
Hey guess what, my vehicle was locked….and if it says it’s locked or secured in a manner to prevent unauthorized use….then it’s NOT illegal. Nothing about time length of running idle or such.
So what am I going to do about it? Well I called the VPD Constable & left a voice message for him to call me back to discuss this. If he doesn’t clear it up, I will dispute this. In my experience, I feel I should have a strong case in court if I can show my car was locked or secure at the time. I plan to prove this with pictures of my steerwheel lock, alarm, and alarm manuals. It will be dependent if they accept this evidence. Also I will question the attending constable in court if he checked the door to see if it’s unlocked & looked inside to observe the steering wheel lock. But I’m hoping it won’t have to go that far & he just fixes it now, as I’m going to talk to him all professional like….which I did at the time of the incident (doesn’t usually pay to freak out).
I’m telling you all this because you should check your ticket as well to see what you were ticketed for, as I don’t see any other Violations in the Motor Vehicle Act talking about idling when I scanned through it. Regardless if there is another Violation for Idling or not….It doesn’t matter as I was not ticketed for that, I was ticketed for supposedly not having my vehicle locked nor secure, but it was. If you know anybody else that has been ticketed for idling, you should tell them to check their tickets as well.
I hope you find all this helpful.
Also see: Scientist emails the City of Vancouver
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