Salt Lake City


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Salt Lake City’s Idle Free Ordinance

Poor air quality is a significant public health concern for those who live in the Salt Lake Valley. Due to our geography, climate and growing population, air pollution is a persistent problem that contributes to respiratory issues such as asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, and impacts our overall quality of life.

Vehicle exhaust makes up over 50% of the air pollution in Utah during a typical winter day, and unnecessary idling of cars and buses contribute a significant amount of emissions released into the air each day.

In the fall of 2011, the Salt Lake City Council unanimously approved a proposal from Mayor Ralph Becker to create the City’s first Idle Free Ordinance. The ordinance prohibits unnecessary vehicle idling over two minutes within city limits.

The Idle Free Ordinance

The Idle Free Ordinance was updated by Salt Lake City in 2021 following changes to State Law allowing Salt Lake City to issue one warning before fines are levied. Read the updated Idle Free Ordinance.

Key points of the ordinance include:

  • A time limit of two minutes for unnecessary vehicle idling.
  • The ordinance is enforceable on public property and private property open to the public (i.e. drive-through windows and parking lots).

Exemptions include:

  • Idling while stopped:
    • for an official traffic control device;
    • for an official traffic control signal;
    • at the direction of a police officer;
    • at the direction of an air traffic controller;
    • for airport airside operations requirements.
  • Idling as needed for the health or safety of a driver or passenger, including police K-9 or other service animals.
  • Idling as needed for authorized emergency or law enforcement vehicles to operate equipment.  
  • Idling as needed for repair, maintenance, or inspection of the vehicle.
  • Idling as needed for the period recommended by the manufacturer for efficient operations of a turbocharged heavy duty vehicle. This includes building air pressure in air brake systems, among other requirements. 
  • Idling as needed to operate auxiliary equipment for which the vehicle was primarily designed or equipped, such as: emergency equipment, refrigeration unit, lift, crane, pump, drill, hoist, or ready mixed equipment, except a heater or air conditioner.

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