Councilman wants remote starts legalized

Monday, January 4, 2010 at 1:32am

In the midst of a bitter cold spell Metro Councilman Buddy Baker has filed an ordinance that would allow drivers –– albeit, those who use remote starting devices –– to leave parked, locked and running automobiles unattended as they warm up their vehicles.

The bill, co-sponsored by Councilman Duane Dominy, is scheduled for first reading at Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting.

Efforts to enable drivers warm up their cars during cold days –– which violates Metro’s current law –– began last February when Councilman Michael Craddock learned Metro Police had ticketed one of his Madison constituents for leaving her car running as she waited inside her house.

The mere existence of the law was news to lawmakers like Craddock, who promptly filed legislation that would have let all vehicles on private property remain idle while unattended when temperatures reach 40 degrees or less. The bill never made it past first reading, however, as it was deferred indefinitely at the recommendation of the Council’s Public Safety-Beer and Regulated Beverages Committee.

Unlike the bill that failed earlier this year, Baker’s ordinance would grant car-warming ability to those with a remote starting device, a portable instrument –– often attached to a keychain –– that utilizes a pulse signal to start a vehicle’s engine, allowing a car to run without inserting a key in the ignition.

Remote starting systems operate independent of the automobile’s circuitry, using only the car’s battery via the cigarette lighter as a power source. Once the driver enters the vehicle, a key is then inserted into the ignition to drive the automobile.

Baker, who represents parts of West Nashville, said he was also alerted to the Metro law after learning of the incident in Craddock’s district and believes vehicles with remote starting devices should be exempt from it.

“I’ve had several remote starts on the last few cars that I’ve had,” Baker said. “You can start it from inside (your house) and if someone tries to break into the car to steal it, and they try to put it in gear, everything shuts down.

“I don’t have any reason to believe this shouldn’t be approved,” he said.

13 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 1/4/10 at 7:57

If the car cannot be moved without a key the ticket should not hold up as the "intent" is to thwart auto thief and defys common sense by the officers and reinforces the feeling that this is just another revenue producer and fulfilling the quota for tickets they allegedly don't have.

Citizens are not the enemy of the police nor are they a revenue source for technical violations.

The role of government is not to perfect us but protect us....Sarah Palin

By: govskeptic on 1/4/10 at 8:10

"Law is not to perfect us" I love that statement, but don't
expect the Chief to go along with it. This was a silly law
to pass to begin with, I'm not sure how so many council
members were surprised when it was enforced. This
should be passed, it very well could keep a serious
wreck from occuring because of a frosted over windshield!

By: vechester on 1/4/10 at 9:03

Wow. I must say this law ranks right up there on the stupidometer. Just another clear case of how government can over reach in so many ways. My first impression was imagining an officer driving by and noticing the exhaust puffing away on an unoccupied vehicle in someone's driveway. Well, we can't have that! That's a violation of Metro Code 3602A sub-section 42769 paragraph 263 ref. 53b. WE MUST CITE THE OWNER OF THIS VEHICLE! Sorry for my lame humor this AM, but really, what was this officer thinking???

Now for the Metro Council, we would need to recalibrate that stupidometer quite a bit because of the needle going off the scale on this. Now the Council wants our police officers to carry thermometers around with them (I suppose holsters will need to be altered??) and take a reading on the temperature before they issue a citation on some schmuck for warming up his wife's car before she leaves for the office.

Has everyone's brain frozen in the Council or do they just operate that way year round???

By: gensurg1 on 1/4/10 at 9:25

So are we not allowed to cool off our cars during the scorching summer months either? This is so dumb the council members who passed this law should all receive yearly citations for stupidity until the law is repealed.

By: HokeyPokey on 1/4/10 at 9:30

I never, ever, leave my car idling either to warm or cool it. It's a waste of gasoline. Cold? wear a coat!

By: vechester on 1/4/10 at 10:10

Hey pokey, you wear a coat. Personally I like a warm car in the winter and a cool one in the summer. In fact owning a car is a waste of gas. Just sell yours and walk. I'll wave as I pass you by in my warm ride:-)

By: Kosh III on 1/4/10 at 11:48

Pokey: Exactly. We are sooooo spoiled. Better to waste gas and foul the atmosphere than to suffer one second of discomfort.

By: HokeyPokey on 1/4/10 at 11:54

thank you, Kosh III, for a voice of reason in a sea of selfishness and sloth.

By: Magnum on 1/4/10 at 12:02

I'm actually glad this got attention. I've known about this law for a while. I actually became aware of it when I saw a Metro officer warn a woman inside a gas station that leaving her car running in the parking lot was against the law and that she could be ticketed, even arrested. I then walked out at the same time as the fortunately unticketed, unarrested woman to see that the cop had his car parked two spots down from her. And guess what, his car was running and unoccupied. Ironic? Oh I know he may have to jump in his car at any moment and speed to get to the scene of a rolled stop sign or something.

While I understand why it is in the interest of the public that this woman not leave her car running in the parking lot of a gas station, it is my opinion that if it is on MY property, it should be MY right as to whether I want MY car running or not. If it gets stolen, then that is between me and MY insurance. Actually, I don't leave my car unoccupied, but my argument is...what's next, I get ticketed because I was throwing something in my trunk? Well I wasn't in the car and it was running, so why not? Quit screwing your citizens as it is an obvious ploy to bend over for the auto insurance industry and put a little extra cash in your pockets.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/10 at 1:58

People that leave their cars running unattented get what they get.

Maybe the law should be that their insurance should not pay off.

By: Magnum on 1/4/10 at 8:33

Maybe rather than have another stinkin' law on the books, we could let the insurance industry work this one out on their own. If the cost of stolen vehicles due to "unoccupied warming or cooling" is burying the auto insurance companies, they should add a provision to the coverage. We need fewer stupid laws...not more.

By: HokeyPokey on 1/5/10 at 4:30

Now, let me get this straight, Mag. You're in favor of the insurance companies doing something to guard against their own losses which, if it works, they'll all adopt, leaving you with no choice but to buy a policy with that kind of hole in it. A policy conceived of and adopted by an institution over which you have no control.

To you that's preferable to having a political body make the rule, an institution over which you have, at least, some control all in the name of "fewer stupid laws?"

Did I get that correctly?

By: Magnum on 1/5/10 at 9:53

1. I thinik insurance companies can already successfully argue that the owner is at fault in these instances and either not pay or at least raise future premiums significantly. So what is the point of the law? Who does it really protect? I really am fairly ignorant as to insurance policy so this point may be invalid.
2. If you were arguing that the law created by the political body was in the public's best interest (as opposed to what an insurance company would enact), how does this law benefit the public? Seems to me it is a quick way to produce some revenue for the city and put a smile on the face of the local insurance lobby and political action committee.
3. It may seem to you that I have no acumen for high-level reasoning by wanting the government to enact fewer laws, but my argument is that in the long run we are better off allowing the marketplace room to work out its own issues. If this is a law, why aren't the following laws: a.) a homeowner can be ticketed for letting his/her lawn get dry due to fire risk, or b.) a citizen can be fined for wearing a shirt without sleeves in weather colder than 40 degrees, or c.) a citizen can be ticketed for carrying more than $100 in cash. I mean why not?