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ASK A COP: Damn Those Deafeningly Loud Motorcycles

What's it take to give a ticket to unmuffled cycles that rattle the earth and destroy any chance of enjoying nature?

Every week Patch passes on your questions to law enforcement officers. Email yours to brad.kava@patch.com


Patch Reader: 

Hi I would like to know why CHP and local law enforcement agencies do not enforce muffler violations on those motorcyclists on Harley Davidson bikes seem to always ignore. Was behind one the other day in the fast lane doing 65 plus and he passed me like I was standing still! The noise almost broke the windows, He had no mufflers whatsoever, just straight pipes! Why is this allowed??


Answer from CHP officer Bradley Sadek:

Often we will observe a mechanical violation (ie: Illegal lighting, loud exhaust, tinted windows) and issue a "Fix-It ticket."  The unfortunate fact is, often those violators will correct the deficiency, get the citation signed off and paid for, then reinstall the equipment that got them the ticket in the first place.

It is also important to remember, just because a law exists, doesn't mean it isn't violated.  We get this question often relating to window tint. Just because motorists observe a lot of tinted windows doesn't mean we aren't enforcing that law, and the same is true for loud motorcycles and speeders.

With motorcycle exhaust, it can be a bit more tricky. Unfortunately our hands are tied up, just a bit.

(Info from AAA's website)

California Vehicle Code sections 27201 and 27202 established the following:

A noise limit of 92 decibels applies to any motorcycle manufactured before 1970. A noise limit of 88 decibels applies to motorcycles manufactured after 1969 and before 1973; 86 decibels applies to motorcycles manufactured after 1972 and before 1975; 83 decibels applies to motorcycles manufactured after 1974 and before 1986; 80 decibels applies to motorcycles manufactured after 1985.

Motorcycles registered in the state that are manufactured on or after 2013 or have an aftermarket exhaust system manufactured on or after 2013 must have the federal EPA noise emission label affixed to it in order to be operated, used, or parked in the state.

However, in order for us to enforce these regulations we are required to have a calibrated decibel meter! Psss..... we don't have calibrated decibel meters.

What we do have is section 27150 (a) which requires every motor vehicle to be equipped with "An adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise."

So what is excessive and unusual noise? If we can hear it from a distance of 50 feet, at freeway speeds, with our windows rolled up, and it is still uncomfortably loud, that is enough for us to stop that motorcycle for excessive exhaust noise.

Dan Buckles January 27, 2014 at 03:30 PM
I live at the end of Willow Pass Rd., next to the Weapons Station, and everyday and night one goes by wide open and it's like I'm standing next to it in my bedroom, and I'm a good 300 feet away from the street with 4 condos attached to each other. It's especially unnerving at 2 AM when the bars get out during the summer when I have my window open trying to sleep. And by the way they'll tell you it's easier for cars to hear them, and that's a bunch of BS because you can't hear them until they fly by you. It's time to end this on my street. By the time both cars and the bikes are speeding, heading to a blind turn, and some have even gone off the road. Would welcome speed bumps or a traffic sine signalling their speed limit....something to stop the noise and excessive speed violations.

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