Feifer & Greenberg, LLP

How to fight an NYC idling ticket

how to fight an nyc idling ticket

How to fight an NYC idling ticket

New York City is known as a city that never sleeps.  There’s constant activity and vehicular traffic on the road, both commercial and private. Despite all these vehicles on the road, the city is committed to doing what it can to reduce vehicular emissions and air pollution and improve air quality for its residents.  

To this end, the city enforces strict regulations on idling vehicles (vehicles left running while parked). These regulations are part of the city’s broader commitment to improving air quality and public health as prolonged idling of vehicles emits pollutants that contribute to respiratory problems and other health issues.

Summonses issued to the registered owners of idling vehicles are not summonses that will have an impact on a driver’s license or insurance.  These are fines only but can be quite a burden with fines for a first offense starting at $1000 and rising on a second or third offense. Keep reading to learn how an NYC traffic violations attorney can help you fight the ticket.

Understanding New York City idling laws

New York City has some of the most stringent idling regulations in the country. These regulations were enacted to limit unnecessary vehicle idling and to reduce the emission of harmful pollutants into the air.  According to New York City idling laws, idling violations include idling for more than one minute near a school and idling for more than three minutes in non-school areas.

Note that New York State might have less stringent idling regulations that apply to the state in general but drivers should recognize that larger cities (certainly NYC) are empowered by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to enact their own traffic rules and regulations which will supersede and can differ slightly from the general NYS laws.

New York City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) is the agency responsible for handling these violations.  If you’ve been suspected of idling in violation of city regulations, you may receive an idling summons typically issued by various city agencies including the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).  

The previously mentioned enforcement agencies are not the only source of idling summonses.  If someone sees your vehicle idling in violation of the regulations, they can send a picture or video to the Citizens Air Complaint Program, an online reporting site administered by the New York City Department of Transportation. The complaint is reviewed by an inspector, and if it’s deemed valid, then the vehicle owner receives a summons to court.  If the case results in a conviction and a fine, the individual who reported it is given a monetary reward.

How can I fight an NYC idling ticket?

The consequences of violating idling regulations in NYC can vary depending on the severity of the offense and whether it’s a first-time or repeat violation. Penalties may include fines ranging from $1000 to $2,000 for the first offense and they can increase substantially for subsequent violations.

With the potential for such high fines, it’s worth the time and/or expense to fight idling violations in many situations.  You may have extenuating circumstances or may fall under an exception or perhaps were wrongfully targeted by an overzealous citizen looking to make some money.  It’s certainly worth a consultation with an NYC traffic violations attorney who is familiar with idling matters.  In some cases, the correct decision might be to fight outright, and in others, a settlement might be the more prudent course of action. 

This is a summary of the OATH process for fighting an idling summons:

  • Receiving the Summons: After being issued an idling summons, you’ll need to respond either by paying the fine or confirming a hearing date.  The hearing date should be noted on the summons.
  • Scheduling a Hearing: If you believe you’ve been unfairly ticketed or otherwise decide to dispute the violation, you will follow the instructions on the summons to either schedule an in-person or remote hearing at which you’ll have the opportunity to present evidence and argue your case.
  • The Hearing: OATH judges preside over the hearings and consider all evidence and testimony presented.  It’s essential of course to be as prepared as possible if you intend to dispute the summons.
  • The Outcome: After the hearing, the OATH judge will issue a decision, which may include a fine, a dismissal of the summons, or other penalties if you’re found in violation of the idling regulations.

Are there exceptions to NYC idling laws?

There are some exceptions in specific circumstances for specific vehicles:

  • Emergency vehicles do not have to adhere to idling regulations during an emergency response situation
  • Cargo vehicles may idle the vehicle while loading or unloading if the engine must remain on to do so
  • If you’re in temperatures below 40 degrees and there are a certain number of passengers in your vehicle.
  • If the vehicle’s engine is used for processing or maintenance

It is entirely possible to receive a summons despite clearly operating under one of the exceptions to the rules as the enforcement officer or civilian might not be aware of the entire situation.

Our skilled NYC idling ticket lawyers are ready to help

We’ve assisted many clients with idling violations and we are happy to offer a free consultation to anyone trying to figure out what options are available to them after receiving such a summons.  Contact Feifer & Greenberg, LLP at (888) 842-5384 to speak with one of our attorneys about your case.


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Your office is in NYC. How do you handle cases statewide?

We have organized a statewide network of attorneys. In our network are both attorneys who work for Feifer & Greenberg and attorneys who work for other firms that regularly provide of-counsel representation to our clients. This statewide network allows us to match clients in a particular county or court with local attorneys who regularly appear on similar matters in the same county or court. It enables us to help clients anywhere in New York State and in our opinion provide particularly effective and affordable representation for our clients. Local attorneys can draw on their particular local experiences and, with travel time and expense removed from the equation, help us keep our legal fees low.

Do you guarantee results?
We can only guarantee that we will provide the best possible client service and legal representation. We can’t guarantee results. These are legal proceedings and we can’t promise you that every case will end in our favor. We will always honestly assess your case (both good and bad) and set realistic expectations during your consultation. We’ll discuss our goals and objectives but no attorney can ever guarantee how a case will conclude.
Should I just pay my ticket or should I fight?

We recommend fighting almost all tickets. Even if the current NY traffic tickets aren’t particularly harmful, you have an incentive to keep your record clean for the future. Convictions quickly lead to surcharges, insurance increases and other complications. You should strongly consider any decision to pay a ticket without fighting.

How can our traffic ticket lawyers help you?

Our lawyers are experienced, prepared attorneys who understand the nuances of fighting traffic tickets. Experience, preparation and good decision making help us to help our clients avoid points, surcharges, insurance increases and the other negatives that can easily result from a traffic ticket.


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