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Legislature Passes Bill To Better Enforce Local Anti-idling Laws

Utah State Capitol
KPCW Radio

House Bill 148 allows law enforcement to give only one warning before imposing a fine on drivers who leave their engines running, as opposed to the three warnings that state law previously required.

Bill sponsor Rep. Patrice Arent, a Democrat from Millcreek and co-chair of the Legislature’s Clean Air Caucus, said vehicle emissions contribute to almost half of the state’s air quality issues, and HB 148 would help curb that.

“Many of us have seen vehicles idling for long periods of time, in 60 degree weather, out in front of our schools," Arent said. "This has an impact on our health, particularly some of the most vulnerable people.”

Sen. Curt Bramble, the co-sponsor of the bill, says anti-idling ordinances are really to educate drivers about the effects of idling on air quality. Lehi Republican Sen. Jake Anderegg says education through citation is a harsh way to learn a lesson.

“Quite literally, this is the epitome, if you will, of government interference," Anderegg said. "And yet, on the same account, if it truly is about education, I think there are better ways we could go about educating people than at the tip of a spear by arming law enforcement with the ability to write us tickets.”

Both Park City and Summit County have anti-idling ordinances, prohibiting a vehicle from idling for more than one minute. There are a handful of exceptions to the law, like keeping the car running to defrost windows before driving or when stuck in standstill traffic. Summit County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Andrew Wright says the sheriff’s office prefers to enforce compliance through education, and most often—should deputies come upon an idling vehicle—they’ll choose first to educate the driver on the ordinance. However, if they come upon a habitual violator, Wright says deputies will educate, warn and issue a citation.   

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.