Vehicle Idling

Citizens Air Complaint Program

Idling emissions from gasoline and diesel motor vehicle engines are known contributors to health related impacts, including asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular harm. Idling for longer than three minutes or more than one minute while adjacent to a school is illegal. If you witness a vehicle idling illegally, you can anonymously contact 311 or file a complaint online.

Idling Complaint System

Access the Idling Complaint System

If you would like to potentially receive an award for your enforcement efforts, you can also participate in our Citizens Air Complaint Program. To participate, login to our Idling Complaint System to file and track your complaint. Local Law 158 of 2018 details the award amount for submitting this type of complaint.

Citizens Air Complaint Program FAQs

What vehicles can a citizen file an idling complaint against?

Trucks that are used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property and buses that have seating capacity of 15 or more passengers in addition to the driver and used for the transportation of persons. However, there are exceptions for when a citizen can file a complaint against a truck and bus.

When can a truck legally idle?

Trucks that use the motor vehicle engine to run a piece of equipment such as the refrigeration unit on a delivery truck, an ice cream truck’s machines, a truck’s lift gate when being used to load and unload product, etc. are allowed to keep that engine running. When a secondary engine is used to run this type of equipment and the motor vehicle engine is off, the idling provision does not apply. If you submit a complaint regarding a refrigeration truck, you must document that the engine that moves the vehicle was on and was not being used to run the refrigeration unit.

What is a processing device?

A processing device is a device necessary to accomplish the work for which the vehicle or equipment was designed to do, including but not limited to operating a lift gate or to preserve food through the use of a secondary engine. Trucks that use the motor vehicle engine or a secondary motor to run a piece of equipment such as the refrigeration unit on a delivery truck, an ice cream truck, a truck using a lift gate to load and unload product, etc. are allowed to keep that engine running. If you submit a complaint regarding a refrigeration truck, you must document that the engine that moves the vehicle was on and was not being used to run the refrigeration unit.

Why are armored vehicles exempt from the idling rules?

There are some situations where a company has been granted a variance from the idling law. DEP policy is not to issue a summons when an armored vehicle is used in the course of doing business and is required to idle in order to operate video cameras and to avoid a safety or health emergency. Currently, there are two armored car companies with variances from DEP, Loomis and Brinks.

When can a bus legally idle?

When the bus is being used to actively load/unload passengers.

Can I file an idling complaint against a passenger vehicle?

No. The law limits the citizen complaint program to trucks and buses.

Can I file an idling complaint against an emergency vehicle?

No. An emergency vehicle is defined as an ambulance, police vehicle or bicycle, correction vehicle, fire vehicle, civil defense emergency vehicle, emergency ambulance service vehicle, blood delivery vehicle, county emergency medical services vehicle, environmental emergency response vehicle, sanitation patrol vehicle, hazardous materials emergency vehicle and ordnance (artillery) disposal vehicle of the armed forces of the United States.

How long does the truck or bus have to be idling for in order to file a complaint?

When a truck or bus is not allowed to idle for longer than three (3) minutes, the observation must be for 4 or more minutes. When a truck or bus is not allowed to idle for longer than one (1) minute, the observation must be for 2 or more minutes.

Example: Observing a vehicle idling from 1pm to 1:03pm does not meet the requirement of more than 3 minutes.

When do you use the one minute standard?

When a vehicle is found idling adjacent to any public or non-public school (pre-K–12), then the idling limit is no longer than one (1) minute. Adjacent is defined as a vehicle idling on any street on which a school is located where there are entrances and/or exits from the school to the street. Schools include any building or structure, playground, athletic field or other property that is part of the school (15 RCNY §39-02). Colleges, Universities, post graduate schools, etc. are not included in the one (1) minute rule, so you would have to document more than three (3) minutes of idling.

Are there any situations where a respondent does not have to pay the penalty?

City and state vehicles, including MTA/TA buses, and federal vehicles, are subject to the idling regulations but a summons is administratively dismissed and no monetary penalty is collected. We would appreciate it if you do observe a city or state vehicle, truck or bus idling, to send the name of the agency and the license plate number to our e-mail, citizencom@dep.nyc.gov, so we can follow up with that agency.

What documentation is required to submit the citizen complaint?

The following pieces of evidence are required:

  • A time and date stamped video taken during the time of your observation that captures the truck or bus continuously idling for more than one (1) minute next to a K-12 school or more than three (3) minutes. The sound of the idling engine must be clearly audible on the video. The video must also capture the license plate and the company information/logo of the vehicle.
  • A time and date stamped still picture or screengrab clearly showing the license plate of the vehicle. If the vehicle is a truck with a separate trailer, the license plate of the truck (cab) is needed. We ask that you exercise caution when you attempt to get the license plate information as the license plate can be located in front of the vehicle or the rear of the truck (cab) underneath the trailer.
  • A time and date stamped still picture or screengrab clearly showing the company name and address.
  • A time and date stamped still picture or screengrab clearly showing the US DOT number of the vehicle where applicable.
  • If the complaint is about a bus, a time and date stamped still picture or screengrab from a weather agency clearly showing that the temperature was above 40℉ at the time of the observation.

How do I submit my complaint?

You must submit your completed complaint, completed affidavit and all supporting evidence using the online Idling Complaint System. It is to your advantage to use this system as it allows you to keep track of your complaints.

What happens after I submit my complaint?

Where DEP issues the summons, you will be informed of the summons number and hearing date. You may need to be available in person or by phone to testify. If the summons is upheld, the respondent must pay the penalty in order for you to receive payment for your complaint. If the summons is dismissed, you are not entitled to any payment.

How do I request payment if entitled?

You should submit your request to OATH using this e-mail address, penaltyprocessing@oath.nyc.gov. Include in your e-mail, your name and address, the summons number and that you are the citizen who submitted the complaint to DEP.

Can I track the progress of the summons?

You can use the OATH website to see the status of the summons. To find the summons, you need to enter three zeros before the actual summons number so that you are entering nine (9) digits and a letter. An example of this format is 000123456A. An image of the actual summons will be available approximately two weeks before the hearing date.