As Grand Strand residents prepare to leave for work or school on this very cold, first week of January, many have been doing something that is illegal in South Carolina.
Turns out that it is against state law to leave your car idling unattended.
“No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key and effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway,” the law reads.
The law is meant to protect vulnerable persons, such as children or the elderly, from getting behind the wheel of an unattended vehicle and potentially harming someone, said Joy Nelson, spokeswoman for the Bluffton Police Department. It can also prevent your car from getting stolen, if the car is idling while the doors are unlocked.
“It is the same situation with a vehicle running unattended,” said Nelson. “You never know who could jump in at any moment and steal the vehicle.”
Maj. Stephany Snowden, of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, told WIS that in the months leading up to November 2016, 80 unattended vehicles had been stolen in a 3-month span.
Having a keyless ignition system won’t protect car owners, because the law only addresses leaving cars unattended and makes no mention of needing the key physically in the ignition, Snowden told WIS.