New WV Truck Idling Laws Designed to Reduce Emissions


West Virginia's new idling law aims to reduce emissions, but the effect on drivers may make this law too extreme. The recently passed law, to be enforced by the Department of Environmental Protection, limits how long diesel-powered trucks can idle to prevent excessive idling, providing some exceptions, and also establishing the penalties for excessive idling. While debate ranges, the West Virginia Trucking Association (WVTA) has come out in support for the new idling law and even spent the past two years trying to get the bill passed. "As an industry, we want to do our part to help to curb carbon emissions," explained Jan Vineyard, WVTA president. "West Virginia's trucking industry has been very proactive in its approach to doing what it can to lessen its impact on the environment and to conserve our energy resources."

Places where trucks affected by the new law are required to load or unload or park must put up signs notifying truckers of the new law. The basic law states that no driver or owner of a diesel-powered commercial motor vehicle with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more may idle the vehicle for more than 5 minutes in a 60-minute period. The law does not affect motor homes, implements of husbandry, or farm tractors. The law lists numerous exemptions for trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds from this new mandate. Vehicles may idle beyond the 5 minutes allowed if on-highway traffic forces motionlessness, or the driver is instructed by law-enforcement, safety inspectors, or official traffic control devices to idle. Exemptions also exist when idling is necessary to operate defrosters, heaters, A/C, or cargo refrigeration, or to install equipment and service and repair the vehicle. The law makes sure to specify that the exemption does not apply when idling is done for cabin comfort or to operate nonessential on-board equipment. There is, however, an exception that allows buses to idle to provide heating and air conditioning when non-driver passengers are on board the vehicle. There is currently an exemption for vehicles with sleeper-berth compartments that idle for the purpose of air conditioning or heating during a rest or sleep period and the outside temperature at the location is under 40 degrees or over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, provided the vehicle is not parked at a location equipped with stationary idle reduction technology that is available when the driver arrives. However, this exemption is set to expire on May 1, 2011. Additionally, the law provides for an increase in the maximum gross weight limit and axle wight limit for any motor vehicle utilizing idle reduction technology.

West Virginia is only one of many states that has adopted idling legislation designed to reduce emissions. The penalty for excessive idling is a fine of not less than $150 and not more than $300 and court costs if a driver is found guilty of the misdemeanor. Overdrive Magazine published the following chart outlining the various penalties for idling in particular locations: IDLING LIMITS PENALTIES 1 Arizona (Maricopa County) 5 minutes; 60-90 minutes when hotter than 75 degrees First violation, $100; second and subsequent violation, $200 2 Atlanta 15 minutes $500 minimum 3 California 5 minutes $100 minimum 4 Connecticut 3 minutes Up to $25,000 5 Denver 10 minutes per hour $999 maximum and/or one year imprisonment 6 Hawaii 3 minutes $25 to $2,500 per day 7 Illinois Driver must be present if idling $500 maximum 8 Las Vegas/Clark County 15 minutes $10,000 maximum 9 Maryland 5 minutes $500 maximum 10 Massachusetts 5 minutes Police: first violation, $100; second and subsequent violation, $500. State DEP: $1,000 to $25,000 per day 11 Minnesota (City of Owatonna) 15 minutes; five hours in residential areas $1,000 maximum and/or 90 days imprisonment 12 Minnesota (City of St. Cloud) 5 minutes on West St. Germain Street from 8th to 10th avenues $200 maximum 13 Nevada 15 minutes First violation, $100 to $500; second violation, $500 to $1,000; third violation, $1,000 to $1,500; fourth violation within three years, $1,500 to $2,500 14 New Hampshire 5 minutes if over 32 degrees; 15 minutes if below 32 degrees To be determined 15 New Jersey 3 minutes First violation, $200; second violation, $400; third violation, $1,000; fourth violation, $3,000 16 New York State 5 minutes First violation, $375 to $15,000; second and subsequent violations, $22,500 maximum 17 New York City 3 minutes First violation, $50 to $500 and/or 20 days imprisonment; second violation, $100 to $1,000 and/or 30 days imprisonment; third and subsequent violations, $400 to $5,000 and/or four months imprisonment 18 Philadelphia 2 minutes $300 19 Reno/Washoe County 15 minutes First violation, $250 maximum; second and subsequent violations, $200 to $500 20 Salt Lake City/County 15 minutes First violation, $1,000 and/or six months imprisonment maximum; second and subsequent violations, $2,500 and one year imprisonment 21 St. Louis 10 minutes Up to $500 and/or 90 days imprisonment 22 Texas (Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties) 5 minutes, April to October To be determined 23 Utah Driver must be present if idling $750 and/or 90 days imprisonment 24 Virginia 10 minutes in commercial and residential areas $25,000 maximum 25 Washington D.C. 3 minutes; 5 minutes if below 32 degrees $500; doubles for each subsequent violation