New idle-free ordinance now enforced

Posted at 4:25 PM, Apr 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-25 19:52:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake City Council passed the idle-free ordinance last fall and drivers have had six months to get used to the idea of changing idling habits.

The Mayor's Office says that is one reason the law exists and that is to get people thinking about what they can to improve air quality.

"Vehicle emissions is a great place to start. Turning your key and being idle free is a great way to start reducing your personal emissions and make a positive impact on air quality,” said sustainability manager Kate Lohnes.

The Salt Lake Mayor's Office says the ordinance is not about revenue or citations, but about education. However, that does not mean it comes without consequences.

Idling drivers will get three warnings before getting cited. However, idling at traffic stops is allowed as is running the engine to defrost windows.

Enforcement will be managed by parking services, but mostly through complaints.

“In the wintertime here there's inversions and a lot of unhealthy air. And in the summertime we've got ozone, lots of ozone,” said Bob Smith who supports the new idle-free law. “It's getting harder and harder for people to breathe around here.”

Those against the law say improving air quality is a noble endeavor for city officials but it goes too far.

“It’s just very frustrating for citizens when we have these simple little liberties left taken away from us,” says resident Rien Vanderzee.

One thing not currently exempt is waiting at drive-thrus. But businesses may qualify for an exemption if they post signs about idling.

More information on the ordinance and submitting a complaint can be found on the city's website at