Remote start cars may be exempt from puffing ban

Posted at 11:54 PM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 01:54:00-05

Cars with remote start systems may become exempt from Colorado’s “puffing” ban, under a proposal given preliminary approval Wednesday in the House Transportation and Energy Committee.

“Under current law, you’re not allowed to leave your car running, unattended,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Everett, R-Jefferson County.

Under Everett’s proposal, car owners with remote start systems would need to take adequate security measures to be exempt from the puffing ban.

House Bill 16-1122 says “adequate security measures” include, but are not limited to:

  • Using a vehicle that requires a key to put the vehicle into gear.
  • Keeping a keyless start fob out of proximity of the vehicle.
  • Employing steering wheel security devices.

“It makes a lot of sense,” said Jessica Bailey, a young mom picnicking with her family in Washington Park. “We had a remote system installed on our car, because when it’s 105 degrees outside, there’s nothing worse than putting a baby in a hot car.”

Bailey said when it’s freezing, she still takes her daughter’s jacket off before buckling her into the car seat, for safety reasons.

“A child strapped into a car seat while wearing a jacket can slip right out,” Rep. Everett said. “So, it is a safety issue.”

Bailey said that's why she like to pre-heat the car when it's cold outside.

Police departments often warn against puffing, or leaving your car running while unattended, because it can lead to auto theft.

Denver Police say they saw a nearly 20 percent increase in auto theft related to puffing in 2015.

  • 2014 – 229 cars stolen
  • 2015 – 276 cars stolen       (Jan. 1 – Dec. 8)

DPD spokesman Doug Schepman said that in the last two and a half months, officers have only issued 2 citations to drivers who left their cars running unattended.

“In most cases, officer give a warning and try to educate people,” he said.

The Aurora Police Department also issues citations, but department spokeswoman Crystal McCoy told Denver 7 that “Officers may choose to educate the citizen, in lieu of a citation, if they feel that is the most effective form of deterrence.”

There is also concern about added pollution.

“I understand both sides of it,” Bailey said.  “It’s a little bit of a pollutant when it runs (to warm up), but, especially for moms and families with young children, it makes a lot of sense.”

The owner of Remote Start Guys, an auto accessory shop on W. Colfax in Lakewood, said every remote start system he sells has a security system built in.

“If somebody get in your car when it’s running, you don’t want it to go anywhere,” said Jason Sampson. “The deal is you need a key to drive the car, so if someone does get in your car and it has been ‘remote started,’ as soon as they press the brake pedal or put the car in gear, the car will turn itself off.”

Everett said if his bill makes it to the Governor’s desk, municipalities can still place limits on how long a car can sit idling.