A Michigan man who was fined $125 for leaving his car running to warm up in freezing temperatures has lost his appeal against the fine.
Taylor Trupiano let his 1997 Chrysler Concorde warm up in the driveway of his Waldorf Street home so that his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son wouldn’t be uncomfortable in the 5-degree weather this past January as they waited inside the house.
When Trupiano came outside, however, he found a ticket on the windshield. He went to 39th District Court Thursday to contest the citation, but Judge Marco Santia sided with the officer who left the ticket.
City prosecutor Timothy Tomlinson said the law against allowing homeowners to let their car engines run idle exists is a public safety issue.
“We have repeatedly seen in our city and other municipalities where there are specific thieves looking for vehicles left unattended,” Tomlinson said. “That’s what we are trying to avoid.”
Trupiano’s attorney, Nicholas Somberg, doesn’t believe the local ordinance applies to a homeowner’s private driveway, only to streets and highways.
He cited a 2016 case where a motorist was arrested for drunken driving while sitting in his parked car in his driveway. But a circuit court judge in that case ruled a defendant’s private residential driveway did not mean an area “generally accessible to motor vehicles” and the case was dismissed. The ruling was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
“If you can’t get a DUI in the driveway, how can you get a parking ticket,” Somberg said.
Tomlinson countered by saying the law includes all areas.
Trupiano, 24, fought the ticket as a matter of principle. He expressed outrage at the judge’s ruling
“It’s unfair — I think they’re just looking for the money,” he said. “I technically was still around the car even though I was not standing next to it. You should be allowed to warm your car up.”
A supporter of Trupiano paid the fine already, but it wasn’t clear if the judge was going to allow a third-party to do so, according to a court clerk.
Meanwhile, Somberg was found in contempt of court for allowing an associate to live stream a portion of the hearing on Facebook without permission. He ordered a show-cause hearing for May 25 before Judge Joseph Boedeker.
Somberg said he had assumed that since television news crews were videotaping the proceedings, he would be allowed to Facebook live. Santia pointed out the media had filled out forms prior to the hearing to record the proceedings, adding neither the TV crews or print reporters were going live with their recordings.
Trupiano previously posted his ticket on Facebook, which gained more than 14,000 shares and national media attention.
The controversy prompted state Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, to introduce a bill through the House of Representatives to allow residents to let their cars warm up in their driveways. The bill recently was approved by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and is expected to go before the full House in the next few weeks.