A Michigan man said he plans to contest a $128 parking ticket he received for leaving his car unattended with the keys in the ignition -- in his own driveway.
Taylor Trupiano, 24, of Roseville, said he left his car running in his driveway around noon on Jan. 5. Trupiano said he ran inside his home for around five to seven minutes to drop off groceries and pick up his girlfriend and her young son.
“My car takes forever to warm up,” Trupiano said of the 1997 Chrysler Concorde. “And I believe the temperature was around 5 degrees outside.”
When Trupiano cameback outside to his car, he found a ticket on the windshield with a citation for leaving the car running and unattended. The fine was $128, according to Trupiano.
“My first reaction was just surprise,” he said. “When I first saw the ticket I was like, ‘How long has this ticket been here?’"
“When I saw the date and I saw it was just five or seven minutes ago, I was just in awe,” he said.
Trupiano posted a photo of the parking ticket on Facebook because he had never heard of anyone being fined for a similar offense. The Facebook post has been shared more than 13,000 times.
“I had no clue it was even a law,” he said. “I’ve only seen one person comment that they got that ticket before.”
Roseville Police Chief James Berlin said his officers pay close attention to unattended, running vehicles with keys in the ignition because they are "public safety issues."
“Thieves target cars that are running and it puts the motoring public and pedestrians in danger when they’re fleeing," Berlin told ABC News. "There’s also the danger of a high-speed chase."
Trupiano said the officer who issued the ticket did not attempt to reach him inside the house and did not remove the keys from the ignition. Berlin said the police officer was following protocol when issuing the ticket.
“Often times the officers will put the ticket on and drive off because you risk a confrontation,” he said. “The officer waited an extended period of time.”
Police departments refer to running cars left unattended as “puffers” and warn they are targets of theft. Nearly 45,000 cars stolen in 2014 had keys inside, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
There is no statistic on the number of tickets issued for "puffer cars" each year in Roseville because the citations are grouped in with regular parking tickets, according to Berlin.
Berlin explained the public safety issue of leaving a running car unattended by recounting a local incident where a mother left her two young sons inside her running car while she ran inside her house for a few seconds.
“A thief came in and stole her car. She tried to stop the suspect and was run over,” Berlin said, adding that once the suspect realized there were children in the car, he jumped out of the car too but left it in gear.
“One of the boys jumped out of the car and grabbed his brother and saved his life and the car eventually crashed into a pole,” he said. “That’s an example of how fast this can occur and how catastrophic the consequences can be.”
Trupiano is scheduled for a court date on Jan. 26. He told ABC News he plans to represent himself and fight the fine.
Berlin said the judge will decide the outcome of Trupiano’s case.
“He’ll have his day in court and the judge can do what he wants with the citation,” he said. “That’s why we have judges.”
- Crime & Justice
- Society & Culture
- James Berlin