Residents Targeted by Police for “Remote-Starting” Cars

With frigid temperatures gripping New York City, the NYPD’s 71st Precinct has been targeting law abiding residents for ‘remote-starting’ their cars, slapping them with criminal summonses that carry fines as high as $250 and require appearance in criminal court.


Frigid temperatures have been gripping New York City, and a massive nor’easter dumped nearly a foot of snow on the region. In an effort to break the deep freeze, motorists have been taking advantage of a feature available on many vehicles – remote starting the engine.

Before packing children into cars, or heading off to work, it helps to be able to get a head start on getting the car warmed up – only for one Crown Heights it a strange and infuriating turn for the worse.

The owner of a Chrysler Pacifica ‘remote started’ his minivan before heading out to work last week and when he approached his vehicle there was a cop parked next to it waiting for him. “Do you know that it is illegal to leave a car running” the police officer asked him, he responded “I remote started my car from my house, I did not leave it running.”

The office then said that it is illegal to leave the key in a car while it is running. He responded by pulling his key fob out of his pocket and showing the officer that he in fact did not leave it in the car, and that the car was locked, secured and would be impossible to drive off with it.

The officer responded “well you know that today they have devices that can hack [the car]” and proceeded to issue him a criminal court summons, which requires a court appearance and carries a $250 fine. showed a copy of the summons to a traffic ticket specialist who explained that the ticket is invalid, “the subsection under which the summons was issued, 10-111a, applies only to someone who left a vehicle running with the key in the ignition,” which he explained was not the case here. “And the officers so-called expertise on hacking has no relevance to the summons whatsoever.”

“I posted this on my Shul [synagogue] chat and heard that others have received similar summonses” the owner of the vehicle told The summons was issued by officer Davitt-Sweeney of the 71st Precinct.

We reached out the 71st Precinct in hopes of receiving clarification and were told that it is being looked into.


  • 1. too many alternate cancellations wrote:

    they are trying to make up their quota. cops these days are nothing more than glorified brownies. it giving tickets should be way below their dignity.

    • 2. No respect wrote:

      I understand your frustration with this particular situation, but this is a nasty thing to say about the people who protect you on a daily basis. Shame on you. Have a little respect

    • 3. Respect wrote:

      Respect is a two way street. I am not from CH and have a great attitude and respect for the police in my area. The officers patrolling CH seem substandard and ill-informed to say the least. I have gotten more tickets in CH then everywhere else combined and everyone of them was dismissed. From talking on the phone while driving (with no phone in the car) to driving with a suspended license (clearly valid). It is absurd how CH residents have to put up with this trash.

  • 4. News Org. wrote:

    Now you know hiw 71 pct protecting our community. And you have the paper trail to prove it.

  • 6. Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t think the Police are intentionally trying to issue tickets for any reason other than to bring awareness to the Public that their vehicles are at risk of being stolen. When the vehicles are stolen, the Police have to spend time, energy and monies trying to recover them. It puts our Law Enforcement at increased personal risk.

    • 7. Yes, but... wrote:

      It would help if they wrote tickets for actual infractions, not made up ones like in this case.

      Cops should be prosecuted for writing false summonses.

    • 8. Cholent Mit Kugel wrote:

      the law was set up for polluttion. i don’t remember the law verbatum; however, the law is in effect to control just how long an idle vehicle can leave the engine running.

    • 9. anon wrote:

      people would end up sitting in there car letting it warm up so the law it pretty pointless in the winer

    • 10. Anonymous wrote:

      You obviously don’t know how remote starters work, then.

      When you remote start a car, it has no key in it. It can’t be driven away unless the key is present, inside the vehicle, and the ignition button started.

      For the argument that someone can hack your car, that may be true.

      I guess that no one has ever heard of the hacking called HOTWIRING. Dear goodness, people, there is no more danger in having a car that was remote started over one that is sitting, off…

      This officer is either grossly incompetent or grossly overstepping his bounds. Either is egregious enough for a firing and/or lawsuit…

    • 11. Respect wrote:

      If the law is you can’t use remote start then he should have gotten a ticket for that. Giving out tickets for something similar to an offensive is ridiculous.

    • 12. Dinkin wrote:

      Right other wise they wud be able to sit in their police cars & watch movies, but to earn their pay is asking for to much?.

  • 13. Yossi wrote:

    We need the community council to step up and do something once and for all.

  • 15. Law and order ???? wrote:

    No other words for this insanity

    I am sure that officer Davitt-Sweeney
    would never use his remote starter in his own car. NOT

    So if you sit in the freezing car with your kids waiting for it to warm up that is OK ?

    And for officer Sweeney, if they have the chip to open your car and drive off with it, if the car is on or not makes no difference.. simple ignorance of how it all works…

    This is Total Insanity.

    Thanks for reporting this story.

  • 17. GS wrote:

    In Reality they Can Write a No-Idleing ECB (Environmental Control Board) Summons, A Pink or Yellow Ticket Carrying a $560.00 Fine & You Must Appear in Front of a Judge in Environmental Court

    • 18. But.... wrote:

      Yet they didnt, they wrote a defective and false ticket instead and when they were challenged they covered it by the ridicules ‘hacking’ excuse… gimmy a break!

  • 19. Mendy wrote:

    I saw the cops waiting for him,
    They new it was cold and that there was no key inside,
    Those cops should be punished for abusing there power

    • 21. Cholent Mit Kugel wrote:

      YOU should be punished for telling such tall tales AND spending so much time on the internet isn’t it cold in your mommy’s basement?

  • 22. The kangeroo wrote:

    Probably an error by an overzealous officer. It does not pay to declare war because of it.

  • 23. Joe wrote:

    Hi, about the guy that mentioned Pollution, I am almost sure the law is for trucks and deisel engines,not for gas engines, if some1 knows how to look up the code, that might be another way how to fight this tickit, please advise

  • 24. Worried in Wisconsin wrote:

    Here’ a piece of the law code which seems to be applicable in this situation:

    10-111 Unattended vehicles.
    a. It shall be unlawful for any person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle to permit it to stand unattended on the streets or thoroughfares of the city, without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition and, where the ignition is locked or unlocked by a key or other device, removing such key or other device.

    This being the case, it doesn’t appear to matter if there is a key in the ignition or not. What matters is that the engine was left running.

    The same thing is enforced here in Wisconsin. There have been countless situations where cars were stolen when the engine was left running to warm up, at least one of these I can remember there was a child in the car as the mother was loading the kids while the engine warmed up.

    • 25. The person who it happened to. wrote:

      It was a remote start, you cannot access the car or drive off with it, if your are not in the car with the key fob.

    • 26. UHHHH wrote:

      *removing such key or other device.*

      Seems to be that this statement is most pertinent to the details of this story, since the “key or other device” was not in the vehicle. The vehicle was started from inside the persons home using the remote start function that came as a factory option with the car.

      He also pointed this out to the officer, who decided in her own infinite wisdom to to amend, modify and apply a completely made up law to punitively pushing an otherwise law abiding citizen.

      Shame on her and any other officer who supports her actions – as we can clearly see that there are a few of you here…

    • 27. Worried in Wisconsin wrote:

      I think that this is the important part of the code:

      “without first stopping the engine”

      Doesn’t matter how it is started or shut down. The fact that the engine has not been shut down is what they’re writing the ticket for.

      Seems like the rule is that if the vehicle is on the streets it may not be left running if no one is there to attend to it. Might be allowable in a private driveway, but apparently not on a public street.

    • 28. The way I see it wrote:

      Based on how the law is written the following criteria must be met in order to receive a ticket;

      a. stand unattended […] without first stopping the engine

      b. locking the ignition


      c. and, where the ignition is locked or unlocked by a key or other device, removing such key or other device

      So if any of the three is lacking then a ticket cannot be written for the aforesaid violation.

      In this case the ‘other device’ (key fob) was not present in the vehicle so the ticket is invalid.

      So once again *removing such key or other device.* Is the pertinent statement that does not apply here.

      Once the cop was made aware of this by the motorist the cop committed a Class A Misdemeanor pursuant to section 210.45 of the Penal Law, by affirming that he/she observed the commission of this offense despite knowledge to the contrary.

  • 29. S’vet zain gut wrote:

    Reply to this

    We need the community council to step up and do something once and for all.

    We don’t have a COMUNITY council!!!!!

  • 30. Simple Solution wrote:

    If you (the driver) see cops standing by a running car waiting for you the driver to come, turn it off from a distance.

    • 31. Cholent Mit Kugel wrote:

      as funny as this may seem………i was dbl parked at aprox 1:30am on w. 49th treet next to studio 1A. …. i was talking toi another driver…… my nextel buzzed and i was responding to a dispatcher……a police officer knocked on my window AND presented me with a summons for talking on a phone in a moving vehicle…………..i can only assume it was because the engine was running………..anyway……….i paid the summons as a cost of doing business AND to move on with my life………. i once was surrounded by 3 cop cars after i trhrough one the finger for speeding(incredibly fast) up the block and past the intersection…….he saw……he did a 180*…….. i asked a neighbor to call 911…….. i got on my radio and requested help from other TLC vehicles…….. the street looked like a TV movie………….. LIFE IS AWESOME

  • 32. 2021 wrote:

    the police nypd should be called NYTD ny tickets department THAT WHATS THERE REAL JOB IS

  • 36. Lawrence wrote:

    Police in today’s age over step their authority regularly
    Police are public servants they serve as the electorate not the other way round
    If the citation is illegal it should be thrown out with costs awarded
    Save that will never happen with elected judges answerable to the Mayor

  • 37. Anonymous wrote:

    The cops have their cars running their entire shift even when they’re standing outside the car the motor is on no matter what the temperature is winter fall spring summer their cars are always idling using our tax money is gas

  • 38. safety note wrote:

    an important safety note:
    if your car is covered in snow, starting it without clearing the snow from the muffler can cause the fumes to feed back into the car and cause carbon dioxide poisoning.
    to remotely start a car, make sure your muffler is clear of any snow or ice

    • 39. Very important post! wrote:

      Thank you for your post. Can you please clarify what areas of the car must be clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

    • 40. Menachem Goldshteyn wrote:

      Yes! Someone died this way last winter.

      P.S. car idling laws apply whether or not the keys are in the ignition.

  • 42. Kop Doktar wrote:

    If the law of leaving an unattended car with the engine running is to prevent car theft – there should be a law against leaving the KEYS in an unattended car – no matter if the engine is on or off!

    Therefore, this law has NOTHING to do with preventing car thefts.

    In a private driveway, you CAN leave the car running while unattended! It is only on public streets that it cannot be done. Yet cars can just as easily be stolen from a driveway as from the curb of a street!

    Think about it!

    This law has NOTHING to do with theft prevention!


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