Is It Legal To Keep Your Engine Running While Refueling In Washington State?

If you’re a driver in the state of Washington, one question that often comes up is whether or not you can refuel your car with the engine running. 


Can I Keep My Car Running While Getting Gas In Washington State?

For safety reasons, it’s important to know whether this is allowed or not. I observed a truck next to me this morning refueling with its engine on because it was cold outside and it got me curious about the law.

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Refueling your vehicle with the engine on can be a convenient way to save time, but did you know that it is illegal to do so in Washington State?

Why Is Refueling With Your Engine On Prohibited In Washington State?

Refueling your vehicle with the engine on can create potentially hazardous situations. Gasoline fumes are highly flammable and can be ignited by even the smallest spark or flame.

Middle age man filling gasoline fuel in car holding nozzle

This is especially true when you are outside of your car, standing near the pump and its open fuel tank. If gasoline vapors accumulate around you, it only takes one spark for them to catch fire and cause an explosion.

Another danger of refueling with the engine running is that it creates additional carbon monoxide emissions from your vehicle’s tailpipe.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can have fatal consequences when inhaled in high concentrations. It’s not just dangerous for those refueling their cars—it’s also dangerous for anyone who may be standing nearby.

The Law in Washington State Concerning Refueling With Your Engine On

In order to protect citizens from potential hazards associated with refueling with the engine running, Washington State has made it illegal to do so.

Air pollution from vehicle exhaust pipe on road

According to the Washington State RCW 46 code:

“No person shall start or cause to be started any internal combustion engine while filling or attempting to fill any fuel tank of such motor vehicle at any public service station or another place where gasoline or other combustible fluids are dispensed into fuel tanks of motor vehicles…”

Violators can face fines up to $1,000 and/or up to 90 days in jail.

What Should You Do If You Are Stopped By Police?

If you are stopped by an officer for illegally refueling with your engine on, remain calm and polite throughout the encounter.

Present all requested documentation, such as your driver’s license and registration papers, immediately upon request. Do not attempt to argue your case—simply explain what happened without making excuses or trying to justify yourself. Follow all instructions issued by the officer promptly and politely until the encounter ends.

At the Gas Station

In conclusion, it is illegal under Washington State RCW 46 code for anyone in Washington State to start or cause an internal combustion engine while filling a fuel tank at any public service station or similar location where combustible fluids are dispensed into fuel tanks of motor vehicles.

Be aware that violations of this law can result in fines up to $1,000 and/or up 90 days imprisonment if convicted so make sure that you always turn off your engine before refilling.

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