A Michigan man found himself on the losing end of a court battle this week after he incurred a $128 ticket for leaving his car idling in a driveway.
USA Today reports that Taylor Trupiano, 24, from Roseville, Detroit, left his car running for 10 minutes in his driveway on Jan. 5 while he went inside his home to retrieve his girlfriend and her infant son.
During that time, an officer spotted his vacant car left “wide open” at the end of his driveway and issued a citation for leaving the keys in the ignition with the motor running and no one around, which apparently violated a state regulation intended to curb car theft.
“I was in and out in probably about 7-8 minutes,” he told ABC 7 reporters. “So in that amount of time he ran up here, gave me a ticket and by the time I got out, he was nowhere to be seen.”
Trupiano posted a picture of his ticket on Facebook, which received over 14,000 shares.
According to City Attorney Tim Tomlinson, two vehicles were stolen under similar conditions two weeks after Trupiano was ticketed when the owners left their cars idling to warm up. He claims one of the car thefts resulted in a high-speed chase and the other car was taken while two young children were in the car.
“There is an important public safety goal this is trying to achieve by having these regulations on the books,” Tomlinson said.
Trupiano rejected the public safety claim and argued that individuals should be allowed the freedom to warm up their own cars in their own driveways without being in violation of state law. He asserts the ticket is merely a ploy for the city to make money from petty offenses.
“That’s a little upsetting,” Trupiano said after the hearing. He doesn’t think the ordinance “applies to my private property.”
Furthermore, he said the reason for warming up his car was because his girlfriend’s son has cerebral palsy and he did not want him to get into a freezing car.
The report also claims that 30 states in the U.S., with Michigan not being among the list, have enacted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations for idling vehicles, though the rules mostly pertain to diesel trucks in order to mitigate pollution.
Trupiano’s attorney, Nicholas Somberg, was dismayed by the Judge Marco Santia’s ruling and said he thinks that case law supports his client’s position.
In an interesting plot twist, the judge also cited Somberg for contempt of court for live-streaming the beginning of Thursday’s hearing on Somberg’s Facebook page without seeking permission beforehand to do so. Somberg is now scheduled for a hearing on May 25.
The reaction to his citation has resulted in Michigan House Bill 4215 being filed in the Michigan Legislature, and the state House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed an amended bill March 28 that would still result in an infraction of a person left a stopped car running on a highway. The legislation still would need to pass the full state House and Senate and get the governor’s signature before changing Michigan law.
According to Roseville district court officials, someone unrelated to Trupiano sent in $128 to pay his ticket, but it has not been decided whether it is an acceptable payment.
Trupiano has 21 days to appeal the ruling to Macomb County Circuit Court.
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