By Cleve Bryan


BELLMAWR, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey’s anti-idling law is aimed at keeping you safe and protecting the environment, however, some say it goes too far, especially in the bitter cold weather. We often notice it when we see a car running and no one inside, but leaving the engine on while in park for more than three minutes, while occupied or unattended, is considered illegal idling in New Jersey.

“I think some cars you should be able to do it and some you shouldn’t,” Lou Arensberg said. “Three minutes isn’t too long.”

New Jersey started cracking down on idling vehicles in 2012 when they updated traffic laws to include a $250 fine for leaving your car idling more than three minutes. The fine doubles for repeat offenders.

“I start my car right as soon as I wake up,” Sofia Wagner said, adding that she leaves it running sometimes for 20 minutes.

The reason for the no idling law is to reduce pollution. Experts say New Jersey has some of the worst ground-level air pollution in the country.

Jeff Tittel, of the New Jersey Sierra Club, says it’s a good law, but enforcement should focus on commercial vehicles and people who leave their engine running unnecessarily when they go into stores. He says it wasn’t intended to punish people warming their cars in their driveways.

“It’s really about education that people should be more aware that what they’re doing is not only wasting gasoline, but it’s hurting the environment,” Tittel said.

Last year, authorities throughout all of New Jersey issued fewer than 350 idling tickets.

“I think it’s illegal to be cold, so I think you should be able to idle it,” Wagner said.

The Sierra Club says if everyone topped idling their cars for long periods of time, it would reduce millions of tons of pollution each year.