Leaving engine on to de-ice car could land motorists a £40 fine

By Ryan Hirons
Motorists can be handed a £20 fine for leaving a car running to defrost — which can be upped to £40 if not paid on time

Leaving your car’s engine running to defrost during the cold winter months? You could be handed a £40 fine if so.

It’s an offence to leave a car’s engine running while parked on a public road under regulations 98 and 107 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. This reinforces rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states: “You MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.”

Failure to switch an engine off when instructed can result in a £20 fixed penalty notice — which can rise to £40 if the initial fine is not paid within a specified timeframe.

While leaving a car to defrost with the engine running on a private driveway may not be an offence, it does leave a vehicle at risk of theft. Many insurers are likely to void a claim in this case too, stating that the vehicle has not been left secure.

Speaking previously on the subject, Edmund King, president of vehicle services company the AA, said: “Keys really are the weakest link in the car security chain, and you should treat them like cash. The current extreme low temperatures may tempt more drivers to leave the car running. It really can be a case of ‘gone in 60 seconds’ if the car is left running.”

That said, failing to clear a windscreen poses both safety risks as a result of reduced visibility and also can leave motorists with a £60 fine. Using de-icing spray and a scraper to manually remove frost is a safer alternative.