Citizens Air Complaint Program

Please Note the Following

  1. Questions and comments submitted to NYCIdling@dep.nyc.gov will be answered in 10 business days.
  2. Idling submissions are reviewed by at least two reviewers including a supervisor before a decision is rendered. Please do not send requests for the DEP to review your submissions after receiving a determination by email.

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

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 058 of 2018 details the award amount for submitting this type of complaint.

Learn about the required documentation to submit a complaint.

Access the Idling Complaint System

Citizens Air Complaint Program FAQs

Citizens may only submit idling complaints about trucks and buses as defined in paragraph 1 and 2 below There are additional exceptions which are explained below in subdivisions a and/ or b.

  1. Trucks are defined to include any vehicle that is designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property as defined in the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law and 34 RCNY 4-01. This would include a van that primarily transports property.
  2. 2. Buses are defined as any motor vehicles having a seating capacity of fifteen or more passengers in addition to the driver and used for the transportation of persons.

Exceptions to Paragraphs 1 and 2:

  1. Trucks that use the motor vehicle engine or a secondary motor to run a piece of equipment including but not limited to the refrigeration unit on a delivery truck, an ice cream truck, a truck ACTIVELY 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.
  2. City and/or State Vehicles are not subject to OATH penalties.

What vehicles can a citizen file an idling complaint against?

  • Trucks that are used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property

    In order to determine what constitutes the primary use of the transportation of property, the factors that shall be used by the department are contained in 34 RCNY 4-01 et seq.

  • Buses that have seating capacity of 15 or more passengers in addition to the driver and used for the transportation of persons.

There are exceptions (see below) to when a citizen can file a complaint against a truck and bus.

A citizen may not file a complaint against a passenger car.

When can a truck legally idle?

  • Trucks that use the motor vehicle engine to run a truck’s lift gate when being used to ACTIVELY load and unload product or a processing device (as defined below) are allowed to keep the 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.

    Section 39–01 of 15 RCNY has been amended as follows to define “processing device” for the purposes of section 24-163 of the Administrative Code:

    1. a device that accomplishes the function for which the vehicle or equipment was designed, other than transporting goods or people, via a mechanical connection to the engine, including operating a lift, crane, pump, drill, hoist, or mixer; or
    2. a system that controls the environment of temperature-sensitive cargo or substances, including but not limited to food, provided that such cargo or substances are being transported in a vehicle designed for the transportation of such cargo or substances.

      The term “processing device” shall not include a heater or air conditioner operated for cabin comfort.

When can a bus legally idle?

  • If the bus is being used to actively load/unload passengers. There is no violation of a bus that idles for longer than three minutes if there are passengers actively boarding during part of that idle period. This is based on the VTL definition of parking and standing.
  • A bus may idle when the outdoor temperature is below 40°F if the bus is occupied.

How is a legally authorized vehicle defined?

  • Every 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, cooling bus, hazardous materials emergency vehicle and ordnance 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 at least three minutes and 4 seconds. When a truck or bus is not allowed to idle for longer than one (1) minute, the observation must be for at least one minute and 4 seconds.

Example: Observing a vehicle idling from 1:00:00 pm to 1:03:00 pm does not meet the requirement of more than 3 minutes as it is not longer than three 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.
  • This means a vehicle idling on each and every street block on which a school is located and has entrances and/or exits to such street.
  • School shall 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 and 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, 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, nycidling@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 and verified by recording the sound either from the front of the truck or the image of smoke plume from exhaust pipe must be clearly evident on the video. The video must also capture all identifying information including either the license plate and the company information/logo of the vehicle when available. At a minimum, the name of the company must be clearly identifiable on the truck or bus.
  • A time and date stamped still picture or screengrab clearly showing the license plate of the vehicle, if available. If the vehicle is a truck with a separate trailer, the license plate of the truck (cab) and the name on the truck and address is also needed. We ask that you exercise caution as the license plate can be located in front of the vehicle or the rear of the truck (cab) underneath the trailer to get the license plate information. The information on the side of the truck should be the information on the complainant form unless you provide a screen shot of where the different mailing address was obtained.
  • EFFECTIVE October 17, 2022: The video must include the side of the vehicle facing the sidewalk, the front of the truck and the back of the truck where practicable.
  • A time and date stamped still picture or screengrab clearly showing the company name and address, if available.
  • A time and date stamped still picture or screengrab clearly showing the US DOT number of the vehicle when there is no other identifying information available.
  • If the complaint is for a bus, a time and date stamped still picture or screengrab from a weather agency clearly showing that the temperature was above 40°F at the time of the observation.
  • EFFECTIVE October 17, 2022: A separate affirmation or affidavit is no longer mandatory. The citizen may choose to submit such document. The checkbox on the application wherein may be used in place of the affirmation or affidavit. You attest and understand that false statements are punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor pursuant to section 210.34 of the Penal Law.

How do I submit my complaint?

By website only.

EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2022: you must submit your completed complaint and all supporting evidence using the DEP website, https://nycidling.azurewebsites.net/. Within 90 days from the date of observation. Submissions after 90 days from the date of observation MAY be rejected.

If there is no license plate or address, what should I include on the form?

The complaint may not be submitted.

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, you should submit your request for payment to OATH. 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, paymentprocessing@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?

OATH has a site where you can see the status of your summons. The website is: http://a820-ecbticketfinder.nyc.gov/getViolationbyID.action.

In order to find your summons, you need to enter three zeros before the actual summons number. An example of this format is 000123456A. The image of the actual summons will be available approximately two weeks before the hearing date.

What constitutes a second and third offense

The respondent has to be found in violation once before anything could be cited as a second or third offense. Once they’re found in violation, the two years goes back to the date of occurrence of the first summons as per 15 RCNY 43–01(5). A third offense occurs after one finding of violation and there are two prior offenses that occur within two years of the first summons.

Should I note in my comments if there is a second or third offense and provide the previous summons numbers?

Yes, it is beneficial to the DEP to see that notation as well as the summons numbers for the DEP to conduct further review. If the information is not provided, DEP will be unable at this time to submit the summons as a second or third offense.

Can DEP confiscate the vehicle that idles?

No. Avoid Scams! Please note that all emails that come from DEP have the email address of @dep.nyc.gov. Any other communications that come from other email addresses like ones that have a gmail.com or other commercial email address are not from DEP and should not be considered a communication from DEP. If you were contacted by someone misrepresenting themselves as a DEP employee, please contact the DEP by email, at nycidling@dep.nyc.gov.

Can DEP pursue Canadian or other license plates out of the USA?

DEP will serve the summons based upon the documentation from the citizen.

Does a citizen have an expectation of privacy?

No, but if the citizen does not want their identity revealed at the hearing, DEP will not disclose. Documents are FOILable. DEP will not disclose the name of the citizen at the hearing unless the ALJ requires the DEP to disclose. The complaint and other information is part of the record and may be disclosed. DEP will remind the ALJ officer that the focus of the hearing should be on DEP’s summons and case.

How does a Citizen Pursue a Complaint on his/her Own?

Please do not email DEP prior to receiving an email from the DEP that you may self pursue.

After the citizen receives an email from the DEP advising that the complaint(s) may be pursued on your own, the citizen should email nycidling@dep.nyc.gov, and provide the complaint number(s) that you are allowed to pursue. DEP will then notify the citizen of a date and time to pick up the summons or summonses as well as the information that is needed to pursue this complaint.

Download the Instructions for Filling Out the Short-Form Oath Summons