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Engine Anti-Idling Law

Close up photo of tailpipe and emissions

Motor vehicles are the largest source of emissions in the District. Vehicle exhaust contaminates the air with pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and soot. It erodes buildings and monuments and is a key contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone or "smog." Exhaust presents a hazard to human health and causes damage to personal and real property.

To reduce these emissions, the District has implemented a law* to limit engine idling. The District's engine idling law is one of the strictest in the country. With a few exceptions, motor vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel are not allowed to idle for more than three minutes while the vehicle is parked, stopped or standing.

The exceptions are as follows:

  • Private non-commercial passenger vehicles are exempt
  • When temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, vehicles may idle for no more than five minutes
  • Engines may idle when they are necessary for the operation of power takeoff equipment such as dumping beds, cement mixers, refrigeration systems, content delivery equipment, winches, or shredders

For more inquiries, please contact Rama Tangirala.

Any person or organization owning or operating a vehicle seen violating this regulation will be issued a civil infraction ticket for $1000 for a first-time violation. Once a company is convicted of violating the engine regulation, the fine on subsequent idling tickets will be double the amount of the previous fine. Historically, the most frequent violators of the engine idling regulation in the District are tour buses, delivery vehicles, construction vehicles, taxi cabs, and solid waste hauling trucks.

Service Contact: 
Manuel Oliva
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
202-724-7650
Contact TTY: 
711