Local officials discuss ordinances in light of idling vehicle law

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 13, 2017

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MACOMB COUNTY — A man who reportedly left his vehicle running unattended in his girlfriend’s Roseville driveway is looking at a $128 fine after he was ticketed by Roseville police on Jan. 6.

The incident has since become regional and national news; it has been featured on numerous television news outlets and was even mentioned on NBC’s Nightly News on Jan. 10. That’s due to the fact that the man who was ticketed posted an image of the ticket on Facebook, even referring to the officer who issued the ticket by a derogatory name. The post has since gone viral.

The main issue of concern surrounding the incident, though, is why the man, who explained to several news outlets that he was keeping his car warm for his girlfriend and her 2-year-old child, was issued the ticket. Many were unaware of such a law and didn’t realize a ticket could be issued without a warning first.

According to law enforcement officials, there is a Michigan law that states that a vehicle cannot be left unattended while idling on a public road or elsewhere. The reasoning is that the vehicle could easily be stolen, which could ultimately lead to an issue of public safety. It is not unlawful to leave a vehicle running unattended if it has been started with a self starter and the keys are not in the ignition.

Roseville has a fairly new motor vehicle code ordinance that models the state law, according to Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, who declined to specifically discuss the Roseville police matter.

“It is a state law; it is a civil infraction,” he said. This means a sheriff’s deputy can issue a ticket even if the city or township in which the vehicle is parked does not have an ordinance that addresses unattended, idling vehicles.

Neither Mount Clemens nor Harrison Township has such an ordinances, but there are many other ordinance that many people may not know about or forget about during winter — community laws that could result in a citation. One such law is a sidewalk ordinance that requires homeowners, property owners and business owners to remove heavy snow within a certain amount of time. In both Mount Clemens and Harrison Township, that amount of time is 24 hours.

But Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest said that more than likely there would be no citation issued, but rather a reminder.

“We just passed the ordinance just before winter last year, and we had a pretty mild winter last year, so we haven’t had much of a chance to deal with it,” he said. “We would enforce by giving information first rather than just issuing tickets.”

The same goes in Mount Clemens, according to Mayor Barb Dempsey.

“We ask they have their sidewalks shoveled in 24 hours, but there are always different circumstances if someone can’t get to it in that time,” she said.

Specifically, a person could be elderly, handicapped or have a work schedule that could keep them from getting to it.

There is a program that can be of assistance for those residents 60 and older who are unable to complete such tasks at home.

Dempsey said Mount Clemens is involved in Macomb Community Action’s Senior Chore Program, which is funded by the county and respective municipalities with Community Development Block Grant Funds.

Currently, 15 Mount Clemens residents receive units of service from the Senior Chore Program. To date, the city has paid $4,441 in CBGD funds to receive this aid for its citizens.

“They will come out and shovel snow, mow the lawn,” Dempsey said. “It’s such a great service for seniors.”

For more information about the Macomb Senior Chore Program, call (586) 469-6999.