Strange Automotive Laws: Maryland Can Pry My Remote Starters From My Cold, Dead Hands

By Blake Z. Rong | March 15, 2012
In Maryland, you can't exit a car while leaving the engine running. No, you actually have to put the car in park and then take the key out before running into Kohl's or your local bail bondsman. Who's got time for all of that? It gets chilly in Maryland too; something around the order of 20 degrees in January, which is perfect weather for car dealers to push the sales of remote starters. Not just aftermarket add-ons anymore, they're a popular option on new cars these days. And, as it turns out, they're illegal to use in the Old Line State. Idling laws are commonplace in most jurisdictions, namely Massachusetts (state slogan: "We Don't Eat Nearly As Much Patchouli As You Think") and California, where the smog basin over  Los Angeles County takes on the consistency of week-old pea soup, usually on days whose names end in vowels. But Maryland is unique in that the idling ban applies even to remote starters, and House Bill 990 makes sure of that. Introduced by Democrat Barbara A. Frush, it reinforces the statement that an unattended vehicle exception "does not apply to a person who is in charge of a motor vehicle that has recently had the engine started using a remote keyless ignition system." Maryland joins geographical stablemates Virginia and Washington DC in the banning of narrowly specific automotive-related gadgets. The latter two are the only states to ban radar detectors explicitly; Minnesota and California merely ban things from being placed in the window, as most radar detectors are mounted. Of course, if you have some sort of slick James Bondian setup hardwired into the dashboard, all bets are off.
Those aren't the only strange, gratuitously specific car laws out there. In Alabama, it's illegal to sound your car horn at any establishment that serves sandwiches and cold drinks after 9:00 pm. In Arizona, under the succinctly-named "Stupid Motorist Law," anyone who drives around barricades and into a flood can be billed for the cost of the inevitable rescue. In Lubbock County, Texas, it's illegal to drive drunk—but it's also illegal to drive if your passenger is drunk, or if you're sober and there's a vessel of potential drunkenness within arm's reach of your driver's seat. Makes you wonder how hard-on-their luck country singers transport their Red Stag back to Rolling Pines Estates. In California, no vehicle may exceed 60 miles per hour without a driver in it. (Laugh now, but it'll be a real problem when the robots have their way.) And we can't count how many towns are like Alhambra, Calif. (population: 83,089), where it's illegal to leave your car on the street overnight without a permit. Yes, even for residents. In many other jurisdictions, a similar action would be known as "racketeering" and come with a high-profile court trial and, for the next of kin, a reality TV show. It's all in a day's work in this wild, wacky, diverse country of ours—or, clearly, this is another example of BIG GOVERNMENT stomping over our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. We AMERICANS have a GOD-GIVEN right to enjoy a slightly warmer car 3 minutes before we get in it, or to annoy the heck out of pregnant 18-year olds who are 10 seconds tardy with our megaburger. At press time, there's no word on whether late-model vehicles with their factory remote starters will be deemed illegal by Maryland's myopic legislators. Source: Washington Post