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Council Bill Would Raise Fine for Unattended Idling Vehicles

11:07 AM EDT on March 26, 2009

Following two incidents in which four pedestrians were killed, a bill proposed by Queens City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley would raise the fine for leaving an idling, unattended vehicle to $250, up from the current, negligible fee of $5.

According to City Room, Crowley's bill comes in response to the deaths of Robert Ogle and Alex Paul, who were run down by a driver who had stolen an unattended car in Middle Village, Queens, and Diego Martinez and Hayley Ng, two preschoolers killed when a van that was left idling slipped into gear and backed into them as they walked along a Chinatown street.

"People need to realize there could have been situations that have been avoidable," Crowley said.

At issue, as always, is enforcement. Earlier this year the Council passed a law that allows agents of the Department of Parks
and Recreation and the Department of Sanitation to issue idling
summonses, appearance tickets and violation notices. Another bill, still making its way through the committee process, would permit traffic agents to issue idling tickets using their hand-held computers.

Unlike other anti-idling legislation, which tends to be targeted toward reducing pollution, the latest bill is intended to prevent thefts and vehicle-related injuries. Said Crowley: "This has to do with more how irresponsible it is to leave your car unattended. It’s sort of like inviting a crime."

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