Leaving car running unattended in driveway could soon cost Milwaukeeans

Proposal aims to cut back on stolen vehicles

MILWAUKEE - Leaving your car running unattended in your own driveway could soon be costly if you live in Milwaukee.

The Public Safety and Health Committee voted Thursday to raise the fine for those who leave cars running on public streets.

The proposal also makes it against the law to leave your car running unattended and unlocked on private property. Kionte Dorsey doesn't think it's fair.

"You're not blocking anybody, you aren't stopping anybody from doing anything, it's on your own property," Dorsey said.

However, Linda Rivera gave it a thumbs up to cut down on crimes of opportunity.

"Everybody wants to get into a nice warm car but with all the younger kids who are looking for a car to steal why give them just open access to a car that they shouldn't be driving," Rivera said.

Alderman Terry Witkowski introduced the ordinance to cut down on just that. Over the past month and a half, Milwaukee Police say the city has averaged more than 100 car thefts a week.

"You really make it easy for people when you leave your car running to warm it up for comfort and that's what was happening," Witkowski said.

The current city code prohibits people from leaving a car running on a public street unless the vehicle is locked and the key is removed.

"You are affecting other people," Witkowski said. "If your car is used in a crime, if we're using police resources to try to find your car and city resources to return it to you, you are affecting other people."

Those who are caught leaving their car in idle on public streets or private property could get a ticket for $75, about $50 more than it is now on public roads.

"Just to get peoples attention, I don't know that $22 does it," Witkowski said.

Rental car companies would also have to abide by this. The proposal goes before the common council in a couple weeks. If it passes, it could go into effect sometime next month.

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