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Approved by committee: Alderman introduces ordinance increasing fine if you let your car idle in your driveway

MILWAUKEE — A pair of ordinances proposed by Alderman Terry Witkowski — aimed at preventing vehicle thefts by decreasing access to keys, were heard by the Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Safety and Health Committee Thursday morning, Jan. 25 and approved.

According to a release, one ordinance “would prohibit motorists from leaving a vehicle unattended with the keys inside parked on private property, including any vehicle parked on a driveway, parking slab, parking lot or other outdoor location on private property.”

City code currently prohibits a person from leaving a motor vehicle unattended on a street or alley, or in any other public place, unless the starting lever, throttle, steering apparatus, gear shift, brake system or ignition of the vehicle is locked and the key for the lock is removed from the vehicle.

The proposed ordinance also increases the citation for a violation from $22 to $75, and the general penalty for violations from a range of $22-$60 to a range of $75-$105. This ordinance was passed by the committee.

“I’ve had extra patrols out there driving around the most affected neighborhoods. It’s just an education campaign to say ‘I see you’ve got your car warming up. You really shouldn’t do that and by the way, it’s a violation of an ordinance and you can get a ticket,” Captain Jeff Point with the Milwaukee Police Department said.

The second ordinance “would require that all keys to motor vehicles offered for rent at a car rental agency located within the city be placed in a secure lockbox inside the rental agency’s building at all times when the agency is not open for business.”

Anyone convicted for a first offense of the ordinance would forfeit not less than $150 but not more than $1,000 (together with the costs of prosecution and, in default of payment, may be imprisoned as provided by law). Anyone convicted of a second or subsequent offense would forfeit not less than $500 but not more than $2,000.

Both ordinances now head to the full Common Council.