Proposed New York City Law Lets New Yorkers Video Idling Vehicles, Report Scofflaws, And Get A Cut Of The Fine

Some New York City politicians would like to see average New Yorkers ratting out their neighbors for leaving their vehicles idling too long, and getting a cut of the cost of the ticket in return, The New York Post is reporting.

In New York, it’s currently illegal to leave a vehicle idling for more than three minutes, or more than one minute in front of a school zone. Enforcement of those laws, however, has been hit-and-miss, to put it mildly. In 2014, three enforcement agencies only ticketed 209 vehicles – $93,010 in fines – for illegal idling.

City Council member Helen Rosenthal would like to see that change.

“We can pass these laws, we’ve strengthened the fines… but the real problem is enforcement.”

To that end, Rosenthal and her colleague, Donovan Richards, have come up with a novel idea: allow ordinary New Yorkers to attend a training class, put on by New York’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and then let them scour the streets looking for illegally idling cars and trucks. They would record the vehicles (complete with license plate information), send the video to DEP, and get a cut of the ticket revenue, according to The New York Daily News.

“We can pass these laws, we’ve strengthened the fines… but the real problem is enforcement. You’re obviously upping the interest by having people share in the fine.”

Under the proposed bill, first-time idling offenders would get a warning, with fines for second and third offenses, and beyond, going as high as $2,000. Rosenthal’s bill would allow informants to keep up to 50 percent of the fine (if it’s collected, that is), although the DEP would have the final say in how much the informant gets.

As to why New York City is so concerned about idling vehicles, banker George Pakenham, who made a video about the problem (Idle Threat), cites environmental damage and public health concerns.

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“On my block alone, I could produce 20 tickets a day, easily.”

Across the country, police are cracking down on running vehicles, but for different reasons than New York’s. According to The Free Thought Project, police in places such as Kansas, Minnesota, and Alaska have been fining people for leaving their cars running, even for warming them up. In some cases, police have rifled through possessions in unattended vehicles, to teach scofflaws the lesson that crooks consider an idling vehicle an easy target.

New York, meanwhile, continues to take its environmental regulations to lengths that some might consider absurd. For example, styrofoam will be banned in The Big Apple beginning in July, based on environmental concerns, according to this Inquisitr report.

Regular New Yorkers are already encouraged to share video evidence of drivers committing crimes such as failing to yield to pedestrians, but the proposed idling vehicles legislation would mark the first time they’re able to get a cut of the fine.

[Image courtesy of: Park It NYC]