Cars in traffic

Car stopped in NYC? Turn that engine off!

There is an army of prying eyes hidden amid the streets of New York City.

I know, it sounds Orwellian. But it’s true.

In NYC, if a citizen files an idling complaint against a motor vehicle, they could get paid money. Big bucks, in some cases.

Here’s the law:

You can’t idle your car for more than 3 minutes in NYC.

And if you’re “adjacent”* to a school, the law is even more stringent: just 1 minute.

What’s idling?

Idling occurs when a car is parked, stopped, or standing with the engine running.

And what’s adjacent?

It’s a good legal question, and one I’ve asked and argued numerous times during idling hearings. In a nutshell, it’s anywhere within a City block of a school’s entrance or exit.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. But they are narrow.

  1. Legally authorized emergency vehicles.
  2. Vehicles whose engine is used to operate a loading, unloading or processing device.

If one of these applies to you, and you prove that, you can win on a justification defense.

What’s up with these witnesses? What do they have to gain?

A cut of the profits.

I’m not kidding. If your idling ticket is sustained at trial, or if you plead guilty, the witness receives a percentage of the fine.

That money adds up. There are New Yorkers who narc on their colleagues as a side hustle.

The witness will first make a video of the idling.

Then, the witness submits the video to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Finally, the witness fills out a summons and swears an affidavit that what they are reporting is true.

For this work, the witness can get a percentage of the fine, which are often as high as $2000.

Okay, I got an idling ticket. What do I do now?

Call Stites Law, of course!

My office fights more idling summonses than any other law office in New York.

They are not easy to win — but on your own, they’re almost impossible. With my office assisting you, you have a much better chance to win, and you do not need to be present for the hearing.

We argue these cases on legal technicalities. The petitioner (that’s the Department of Environmental Protection) must prove the elements of the charge against you. If they fail to do so, you will win.

It’s almost impossible to win an idling summons on“he said, she said” arguments, you will lose abut 99% of the time, because the video will show a car idling.

We argue case law, technicalities, and minor details to undermine the DEP’s case and give you a better chance to win.

Contact us today if you have an NYC idling ticket for a full consultation and to see if we can assist.