Iowans Say a Warm Car Outweighs Outdated Law Against Unattended Running Car

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- With the touch of a button, preparing for this weekend's ice storm could get a bit less stressful.

"I've been thinking about getting a remote start since I got a car here 2 1/2 years ago." Winter has become quite different ever since Coleby Hanisch left his native Hawaiin home. "Winter is really cold," he said with a laugh.

Downtown Des Moines' Ford & Garland has been working tirelessy.  "Anytime a big snow storm is predicted, it definitely rings more," said owner Ryan Garland.  Mark McLellan was another who came calling for his daughter. "They got us in early. Perfect time right before the storm. Many others aren't so lucky. "We usually book out about four weeks this time of year. We usually run through about 60 cars a week," said Garland.

Keeping your cars warm and toasty without anyone inside, Iowa code says, is illegal. If the car is left unattended, the engine must be stopped. Hanisch, unaware of the over 100-year-old law in the books said, "I think that should be changed. I've been lucky enough to not get caught I guess."  With installation, some of these new age starters can run over $500. That's the same price of the 1913 Ford Model T and the same year Iowa's unattended vehicle law was enacted.  "I'm sure they had their purpose at the time but today you can start your car and lock it," said McLellan.

Many agree the law hasn't kept up with technology, but that won't keep them from taking the small risk, or asking for leniency. "It's cold outside, let me warm up my car," said Hanisch.  Garland says a facelift to a law over 100 years old could look good on the state. "People always tell me this makes living in Iowa that much more tolerable with the remote starter in the winter."

The Des Moines Police Department is aware of the law but says it does not have the time or resources to focus on enforcing it.