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 next to a school is illegal. If you see a vehicle idling illegally, you can anonymously contact 311 or file a complaint online.
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.
What vehicles can a citizen file an idling complaint against?
*There are exceptions to when a citizen can file a complaint against a truck and bus. 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.
Exceptions to Paragraphs 1 and 2:
When can a truck legally idle?
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 to define “processing device” for the purposes of section 24-163 of the Administrative Code:
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 but not limited to operating a lift, crane, pump, drill, hoist, or mixer; or a system that controls the environment of temperature-sensitive cargo or substances, provided that such cargo or substances are being transported in a vehicle designed for the transportation of such materials.
The term “processing device” shall not include a heater or air conditioner operated for cabin comfort.
When can a bus legally idle?
How is a legally authorized vehicle defined?
How long does the truck or bus have to be idling for in order to file a complaint?
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?
Are there any situations where a respondent does not have to pay the penalty?
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can follow up with that agency.
What documentation is required to submit the citizen complaint?
The following pieces of evidence are required:
To produce a video or photo with a time and date stamp, you can download an application to your device. View an example of what the time and date stamp should look like. “Timestamp Camera Enterprise” is an example of a free app that will produce the required information. You can download it using the links below:
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 Idling Complaint System 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, what should I include on the form?
EFFECTIVE 11/21/23: 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, 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?
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 three 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 three 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 DEP to see that notation as well as the summons numbers for 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 DEP by email, at email@example.com.
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 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 DEP advising that the complaint(s) may be pursued on your own, the citizen should email firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.