A Western New York Mechanic pleaded guilty to causing a fatal car accident, knowingly driving an unsafe car. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced that the 50-year-old man entered his plea before Erie County Court Judge Susan Eagan. Allen J. Stirling of Lancaster pleaded guilty on January 12, 2022, to one felony count of Criminally Negligent Homicide. He also pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree.

On May 13, 2019, at approximately 9:57 p.m., Stirling caused the fatal crash on William Street in the Town of Lancaster. Working as an auto mechanic, prosecutors say he was well aware that his vehicle was unsafe. He lost control of the WUV and crashed near Bowen Road. The crash killed his passenger 41-year-old Jodie Anstett of Lancaster, who was thrown from the vehicle. Anstett was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

The two counts of Aggravated Harassment are due to Stirling sending threatening text and social messages to the family of Anstett. He is facing a maximum sentence of four years behind bars. Stirling will be sentenced on Monday, May 2, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. He is currently free after being released on his own recognizance.

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Is It Illegal to Warm Your Car Up in New York If You’re Not Inside?

The weather is getting colder by the day here in New York and winter is quickly approaching.  This is the time of year where many New Yorkers, who don't have garages or use street parking, want to warm their cars up before hitting the road.  Honestly, who wants to sit in a freezing cold car, waiting for it to warm up?  None of us, right? But, in New York State, it's illegal to warm up your car if you're not inside of it.  So no, you can't sit in your cozy living room while your car heats up to the perfect 78-degree temperature.  Yes, you can get a ticket and be fined for leaving your vehicle unattended while it's running.

Section 1210 of New York's traffic laws state that leaving a vehicle unattended is in fact illegal,

No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the vehicle, and effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway, provided, however, the provision for removing the key from the vehicle shall not require the removal of keys hidden from sight about the vehicle for convenience or emergency.

There is an exception. If you have a remote starter in your car, you're OK. That's because the key is not in the ignition and no one can drive away with your vehicle (unless they have the key). If you start the car to warm it up and are standing outside of it cleaning off snow, you may be alright, but it could be up to the discretion of law enforcement.

If you don't have a remote started in your car, you probably won't have a police officer knocking on your door if you're car is warming up in front of your home.  But, if you do get caught and an officer is having a bad day, you could be fined.  Or worse yet, a thief could steal your car, as New York Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder warns,

“Leaving your key fob in the vehicle or leaving it running while you run into your home or the store are two of the most common factors in vehicle thefts. Don’t make your car an easy target. I urge you to be cautious and always make sure your vehicle is locked and not left running, even for a minute, and never leave your vehicle title or valuables in the car.”


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