Instead of Don Balfour wasting his time running scientific experiments on sixth graders, maybe he should refocus his energies on this.

Louise Wood warms up her car every chilly morning so her 6-year-old son won’t have to get into a cold car.

After starting the engine, she locks her car, sets its alarm and heads back into her home.

Sounds basic, but Wood and more than a dozen other Forest Park residents have learned an expensive lesson about this common routine.

It’s against the law.

A little-known state statute makes it illegal to leave a car running and unattended. The 33-year-old law was meant to prevent driverless cars from rolling away.

But the law is finding new purpose in Wood’s hometown of 22,000 people, as a tool to prevent auto theft.

Wood, a senior operations clerk at AT&T, is one of 14 people ticketed since January by Forest Park police for violating Georgia code section 40-6-201. The ticket runs $168.

My daughter is 18 months old. We don’t have a garage. I go out in the morning, about fifteen minutes before we leave to go to daycare, and turn on the car to get it warm. I don’t like putting her in a freezing car and she really does not like it.

Apparently, however, it is against the law for me to warm up my car for my daughter. Sure, I understand the public safety concern, but is there not a level of common sense to all of this? Seriously? If I lived in a neighborhood with lots of car thefts, I wouldn’t do that. As it is, my wife’s car is parked behind mine, so it’s not like my car could get out of the yard.

That’s just aggravating.