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Leaving Your Keys In The Ignition To Warm Up Your Vehicle...Illegal?
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Author: EL
January 13, 2017

Recently, it has came to light and clarification for many individuals, if you leave your keys in the ignition, you’re not present it is illegal, and the vehicle is unlocked. Since 2014, there are “Nanny States”(including Ohio, Texas, Colorado) that enforced a no “puffing” law. “Puffing” refers to leaving your keys in the ignition while unattended and unlocked (WND, 2014). Within the state, the cities can implement different standards of the law. For example, in Flint and Grand Rapids, MIchigan there are different rules to the Michigan Vehicle Code, Section 257.676 (Riddle, 2017).

Especially in Michigan, we get hit with some cold morning and harsh weather. When people get ready for work, school, etc. they do not want to sit in their vehicle waiting for it to warm up. Some people invested in a remote start, while others still manually go outside to start the vehicle. Based on research, from 2012 to 2014, Michigan was ranked in the top 5 of U.S. states of auto theft while individuals left their keys in the vehicle (NICB, 2015).

In 2015, the following vehicles were the top of theft:

  1. Chevrolet Impala

  2. Chevrolet Pickup

  3. Ford Pickup

  4. Dodge Caravan

  5. Dodge Charger

  6. Chevrolet Trailblazer

  7. Chevrolet Malibu

  8. Pontiac grand Prix

  9. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee

  10. Ford Fusion (NICB, n.d)

If you are to leave your keys in the ignition, the vehicle should be locked. You can do this by using your spare key or if your vehicle has a lock pad on the door. Although you may think that you are in a safe community, it is advised to lock your vehicle anyway.


NICB (2016, April 27). Theft stats with keys left inside vehicle. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from NICB website: https://www.nicb.org/newsroom/news-releases/theft-stats-with-keys-left-inside-vehicle.

NICB (n.d). 2015 Top 10 vehicle make/model thefts. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from NICB website: https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/top-vehicles-stolen-by-state#States.

Riddle, T. (2017, January 6). Michigan: you can be tickets for warming up your car...or worse. Retrieved January 13, 2017, form Flints Rock Radio website: http://banana1015.com/michigan-you-can-be-ticketed-for-warming-up-your-car-or-worse/.

WND (2014, January 10). Cold shock: warming up your car illegal. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from WND website: http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/cold-shock-warming-up-your-car-illegal/#!.

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