This article explains the technique involved in successfully enforcing and adjudicating muffler laws containing the statutory elements “excessive or unusual noise” and/or “factory-installed” “original equipment.” I debunk the “law’s too subjective” argument and provide a commonsense, workable approach to motorcycle noise enforcement that is practically cost-less to law enforcement yet easily implemented and enforceable by every beat-patrol officer.
Rick Holtsclaw, Houston PD/Retired – Concerned Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles FB
Unregulated, illegal motor vehicle noise has become the number-one destroyer of good daily quality-of-life standards for many millions of American Citizens, especially those living within our congested urban areas. The medical community, the United Stated Congress and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed unregulated environmental noise as having a devastating effect on our health and welfare with roadway noise/motor vehicle noise as one of the most significant culprits attacking our physiological well being. Unregulated motorcycle NOISE, the subject of this article, is undeniably an inescapable loathsome intrusion responsible for much of the illegal, unwelcome NOISE that invades our daily lives; it is the illegally equipped, illegally LOUD motorcycle operating almost completely unencumbered within our communities and on our public roadways that destroys our daily quality-of-life while emitting four-to-eight times (logarithmic scale) the legal 80 dB(A) “total” motorcycle noise emissions restriction as per the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s “Code of Federal Regulations.” That 80 dB(A) “total” motorcycle noise restriction is the “minimum” level of noise emissions exposure protection for the general public. Why is this societal NOISE plague permitted to continue?
During my thirty-one year career with the Houston Police Department, approximately ten of those years were dedicated to patrolling the freeways of Houston as a motorcycle officer or involved an assignment in patrol where traffic enforcement was a large part of my daily activity. Over those three-decades of police service dedicated to the Citizens of Houston, Texas, I watched as destructive vehicular NOISE incrementally increased while enforcement of the insidious NOISE intrusions were and are ignored by law enforcement. Adding insult to injury, I watched as law enforcement officers shamefully became some of the most prolific violators of the motor vehicle noise laws.
I am ashamed to acknowledge the irony and hypocrisy of law enforcement’s involvement in this intrusive, abusive and illegal behavior that destroys the daily quality-of-life and recklessly endangers the health and welfare of the very citizenry these “Peace Officers” took an oath to protect and serve via their hedonistic operation of an illegally LOUD, illegally equipped motor vehicle on our public roadways. What other criminal law could a police officer openly violate and not suffer suspension or termination for unethical, illegal conduct? Shame on every law enforcement supervisor who participates in this abusive conduct and permits the sworn personnel under their authority to violate their oath to protect and serve, to keep themselves unsullied by the World and to obey the law!
See: Congressional Bill Proposal: The American Quality of Life Act – 2017 (A Federal Motor Vehicle Muffler Mandate): https://view.publitas.com/p222-12679/american-quality-of-life-act-2017-congressional-bill-proposal/
This article, titled “Motorcycle Noise Enforcement – 101,” is a grass roots no nonsense workable enforcement solution to the ever-increasing problem of illegal motorcycle noise on our public roadways. Yes, illegally equipped – modified automobiles and trucks are also a huge problem in our society and though I cited and incarcerated these offenders as well, it has been my personal experience that the most egregious, defiant, in-your-face, rebellious, deceitful, vulgar, violators of the vehicular noise laws is a subculture of the motorcycling community I commonly refer to as the Loud Biker Cult[ure].
Know this, at any given time, some 60% to 80% of the motorcycles operating on our public roadways have had their quiet, US EPA approved factory-installed muffler removed and replaced with a NOT FOR ROAD USE aftermarket exhaust emitting four-to-eight times (logarithmic scale) the legal “total” motorcycle noise emissions of 80 dB(A) as restricted by the EPA’s Code of Federal Regulations. These illegal, noisy, dangerous, motorcycle modifications are motivated by arrogance, disrespect, selfishness, rebelliousness and hedonism. Make no mistake about that and do not fall victim to the Loud Biker LIE that their Loud Pipes Save Lives…this mantra is nothing more than a very poor excuse for making illegal motorcycle noise in a vain attempt to garner attention and coerce a pathetic form of “respect” and intimidation from the vehicular NOISE beleaguered citizenry.
Why Noisy Motorcycles?
42 U.S. Code § 4901 – Congressional findings and statement of policy
(a) The Congress finds—
(1) that inadequately controlled noise presents a growing danger to the health and welfare of the Nation’s population, particularly in urban areas;
(2) that the major sources of noise include transportation vehicles and equipment, machinery, appliances, and other products in commerce; and
(3) that, while primary responsibility for control of noise rests with State and local governments, Federal action is essential to deal with major noise sources in commerce control of which require national uniformity of treatment.
(b) The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare. To that end, it is the purpose of this chapter to establish a means for effective coordination of Federal research and activities in noise control, to authorize the establishment of Federal noise emission standards for products distributed in commerce, and to provide information to the public respecting the noise emission and noise reduction characteristics of such products.
In 1981, the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) was de-funded at which time the United States Environmental Protection Agency stepped-back from an active role in environmental noise issues and delegated complete responsibility for noise control to the States and Local Governments. Director McCarthy, our State and Local Law Enforcement entities have miserably failed the vehicular NOISE beleaguered citizenry for over five-decades. A change to the failed status quo is long over do; therefore, I plead for the EPA’s intercession.
The US EPA declares,
In the past, EPA coordinated all federal noise control activities through its Office of Noise Abatement and Control. EPA phased out the office’s funding in 1982 as part of a shift in federal noise control policy to transfer the primary responsibility of regulating noise to state and local governments. However, the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978 were never rescinded by Congress and remain in effect today, although essentially unfunded. https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-history-noise-and-noise-control-act
The EPA continues…
What is Noise Pollution?
The traditional definition of noise is “unwanted or disturbing sound”. Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life. The fact that you can’t see, taste or smell it may help explain why it has not received as much attention as other types of pollution, such as air pollution, or water pollution. The air around us is constantly filled with sounds, yet most of us would probably not say we are surrounded by noise. Though for some, the persistent and escalating sources of sound can often be considered an annoyance. This “annoyance” can have major consequences, primarily to one’s overall health.
Health Effects of NOISE Pollution as per the US EPA…
Noise pollution adversely affects the lives of millions of people. Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health. Problems related to noise include stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is the most common and often discussed health effect, but research has shown that exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health affects.
Sources of Noise Pollution as per the US EPA…
EPA or a designated Federal agency regulates noise sources, such as rail and motor carriers, low noise emission products, construction equipment, transport equipment, trucks, motorcycles, and the labeling of hearing protection devices.
A Brief Review of the Legislative Aspects of Noise Pollution by Dr. Brind Kumar*, Sharad V. Oberoi@, Akash Goenka
With the advancement of science and technology at an unprecedented pace, the urban centers of today’s world have evolved not just in size but also in terms of the living conditions provided by them. This has brought about an increasing new awareness about the noise pollution, which has become a part of our day-to-day lives. Studies have been conducted to trace the amount of damage caused by the noise from various natural as well as man-made sources, especially traffic. In fact, noise has come to be associated with the mental, physical, emotional and psychological well-being of an individual, be it human beings or even animals. In legal terms, noise can be considered as an assault on an individual. Apparently, this is a potential hazard to the provisions of sound living conditions and needs to be checked at planning, administrative and judicial level.
I have personally owned, operated and maintained some thirty-one motorcycles since age twelve. I have accumulated many hundreds-of-thousands-of-miles on motorcycles over the years and I am very familiar with motorcycles, the lifestyle, what is required to survive on a motorcycle as well as the attitude, the mindset of motorcyclists and “bikers;” therefore, I will concentrate on motorcycle noise enforcement as the subject matter relevant to this enforcement overview.
Permit me to articulate a significant distinction between the Loud Biker Cult[ure] and Motorcyclists. Let me clarify and erase any confusion at the outset – there are many respectful and professional motorcyclists operating on our roadways; therefore, understand that the negative connotations expressed within this article are NOT APPLICABLE to these kind and courteous men and women of the motorcycling community. This article places emphasis on a subculture of hedonistic-arrogance wholly applicable to the LOUD Biker Cult[ure] i.e. those men and women who have opted to modify or remove the street legal US EPA approved, quiet factory-installed muffler originally affixed to the motorcycle by the manufacturer and in its place, install a NOT FOR ROAD USE – Competition – Closed Course aftermarket exhaust emitting decibel levels in multiples of the safe motorcycle noise emissions as restricted/suppressed by the legal factory-installed muffler. Questions? See: The Truth about Loud Motorcycles the Police Won’t or Can’t tell you: https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/the-truth-about-loud-motorcycles-the-police-wont-or-cant-tell-you/
During my enforcement years in Houston, I discovered and implemented a workable solution to the rampant vehicular noise problem in that Municipality that permitted me to maintain a 99.8% conviction-rate for vehicular noise cases brought before me for adjudication. That workable vehicular noise enforcement solution, as discussed in this article, is especially applicable to motorcycle noise enforcement protocol using the statutory elements “excessive or unusual noise” and/or “factory-installed muffler/original equipment” as codified within forty-six of the States muffler laws.
Muffler Laws and the States
I have compiled an alphabetical list of the States and their applicable muffler laws at https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/state-muffler-laws/ – please advise me if your particular State has modified or repealed their muffler law relevant to the one I’ve provided in the WordPress article. As noted in the “State Muffler Laws” compilation, forty-six States have codified a version of the universal citation containing the statutory elements “excessive or unusual noise” and/or require the “original equipment” “factory-installed muffler” to be used in enforcement protocol and subsequent adjudication of vehicular noise violations.
The Significance of the Statutory Elements
Only three States have unnecessarily encumbered themselves with redundant sound-meter legislation thereby making their vehicular noise enforcement protocol, for all intent and purpose, impotent and unenforceable. One State, Vermont, apparently lacks any codified motor vehicle muffler statute. We will disregard these four States as having absolutely no concern for the health and welfare or the quality-of-life of their Citizenry and thus we will focus on the remaining forty-six States who have codified muffler statutes with enforceable statutory elements.
State Law v. Municipal Ordinance
For many years I questioned why so many municipalities have enacted vehicular noise ordinances when their State has codified a sufficiently enforceable vehicular muffler statute? I was advised that “money” and the “municipal coffer” are at the heart of this question. Apparently, the fines/potential revenue received from citations written by municipal officers using the “State Code” as the basis for the alleged violation, a larger portion of the monies generated by that enforcement initiative is forwarded to the State coffer. On the other hand, if a municipal officer issues a citation using the municipal code/ordinance, the majority of the revenue generated by that enforcement initiative is placed in the city coffer. This is purely hearsay, but the explanation appears to be credible and provides the ONLY viable answer to our question relevant to codification redundancy and confusion.
Our State Muffler Laws – No Sound-Meter?
After countless experiences involving court testimony in the presence of judges and juries, I can confirm the problems associated with introducing any “instrument” into the adjudicatory process. When an “instrument” such as a radar, laser, speedometer, sound-meter, is introduced as evidence, the proverbial door of confusion, obfuscation, doubt and defense attorney shenanigans is flung open. Instrumentation in adjudication requires regular calibration, record keeping, specific user certification, expert testimony; for sound-meter testimony in particular, the State incurs the adjudicatory challenges of ambient noise problems, specific testing procedures, user certification and re-certification, testing site parameters, logarithmic calculations, instrument calibration and record keeping.
In criminal law, as opposed to civil law, the States “burden of proof” is vastly different. In reference to the civil law, one might be familiar with Lady Justice and her scales…civil law simply requires a “preponderance of the evidence” or a simple “tipping of the scales” a fifty-one percent to successfully prove or disapprove the subject of contention in a civil action. Criminal law, the classification under which most traffic citations are categorized, burdens the State with proving their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Truth be told, no one can actually provide an understandable definition for that legal requirement, yet our juries are encumbered with making their decisions relevant to guilt or innocence based on the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
I’ve mentioned this differentiation between civil and criminal law for a specific reason relevant to sound-meter legislation. Whenever possible, the State is wise to avoid introducing any form of instrumentation into the adjudicatory process unless absolutely necessary. Considering all of the peripheral requirements of the sound-meter, a defense attorney finds very fertile ground upon which to cultivate “reasonable doubt” and confusion in the minds of judges and jurors; hence, “reasonable doubt = dismissal.”
Why encumber yourself with “redundant” sound-meter legislation that will inevitably result in an unacceptable number of adjudicatory failures, unnecessarily discourage noise enforcement protocol as a result of budgetary burdens for sufficient purchases of Type I sound-meters, training, calibration requirements, record keeping, expert testimony, approved testing sites, complicated testing procedures, specific manpower allotments of qualified personnel? Note that I mentioned the implementation of sound-meter legislation as being “redundant,” – I will elaborate on that momentarily.
A Push for Sound-Meter Legislation/Implementation
Due to the out of control motorcycle noise debacle on our public roadways and the obvious absence of vehicular noise enforcement by our unconcerned/participatory law enforcement community, there has been a push to integrate a National Noise standard for motorcycle noise enforcement protocol involving the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Stationary Motorcycle Testing Procedure “SAE J2825.” See: “Noisy Motorcycles – An Environmental Quality of Life Issue” http://inceusa.org/Reports/MotorcyleReport.pdf The focus and reasoning undergirding this study is the assumption that law enforcement’s failure to intercede on behalf of the motorcycle NOISE beleaguered citizenry is the resultant of an absence of a clearly defined and articulate enforcement protocol. After thirty-one years as a patrol officer in the fourth-largest Municipality in the Nation, I fervently/passionately disagree with this analysis of law enforcement nonfeasance/non-enforcement.
The reason for law enforcement nonfeasance/non-enforcement relevant to vehicular noise enforcement in this Nation is not the result of an absence of enforceable statutes, but non-enforcement is the resultant of…
- Law enforcement apathy.
- Ignorance of the law and noise enforcement procedures.
- Law enforcement’s unethical participation in the illegal conduct of operating an illegally equipped, illegally LOUD motor vehicle on our public roadways.
- Politically Correct – Morally Relativistic agendas of municipal administrations who are burdened with liability concerns/civil suit concerns; therefore, these municipalities, via policies and overzealous internal affairs divisions, have quietly and covertly instituted a policy of hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil, do no evil i.e. law enforcement is to do absolutely nothing proactive, do nothing more than provide basic police services, keep your mouth shut, don’t engage…go home.
- Our municipal officials and some state officials unlawfully infuse a pathetic sense of legitimacy into the lawless behavior of the Loud Biker Cult[ure] by knowingly and willingly trading the civil liberties and the Constitutional Protections of the American Citizen for the disposable income of the Loud Biker Cult[ure] via organized thug-fests commonly referred to as Motorcycle Rallies. Our leadership refuses to enforce the applicable muffler laws and subsequently invites many thousands of violations of that muffler law into their respective jurisdictions then refuses to provide any form of police protection, police control over the rampant violations thereby denying the citizenry the protective intent of the well-established law while actually providing “protected class” police protection privileges for the law-breakers. This conspiratorial and unconstitutional behavior of our Mayors and Police Chiefs continues year in and year out, yet they’ve not been held accountable for their stark violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Though the SAE J2825 sound-meter initiative appears workable in theory, truth is, most departments will not allot sufficient funds to purchase the quantity of Type I sound-meters necessary for adjudicatory challenges, nor will most municipal departments allot the manpower to be trained and dedicated solely for motor vehicle noise enforcement. What is needed is a motorcycle noise enforcement strategy that can be implemented by the beat officer without the redundancy of sound-meter legislation. I have provided such an enforcement strategy, a workable motorcycle noise enforcement strategy, within the narrative of this article. Oh, and yes, the Motorcycle Rights Organizations and their defiant LOUD members, the Loud Biker Cult[ure], salivate over the thought of requiring sound meter-legislation for motorcycle noise enforcement. Why? They too know and understand the burdens of sound-meter enforcement and they are also aware that should law enforcement be encumbered with sound-meter enforcement protocol, absolutely NOTHING will be done to STOP their audible assault upon the Citizens of this Nation.
The Federal Law – Our Foundation for Enforcement
For those who have read my articles and for those of you who have reached this point in our topic at hand it’s rather obvious that brevity is NOT my forte; therefore, I will subsequently refer you to URL’s and sites that elaborate on the legal criteria to be discussed.
In 1981, the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) was de-funded at which time the United States Environmental Protection Agency stepped-back from environmental NOISE concerns and the concerns articulated within the Noise Control Act of 1972 though the EPA has maintained an interest in the Clean Air Act and currently pursues violators of said Act, see: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-government-sues-harley-davidson-over-emission-control-defeat-device-2016-8 and https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/volkswagen-spend-147-billion-settle-allegations-cheating-emissions-tests-and-deceiving I have contacted legal representation for the EPA regarding vehicular noise and was subsequently transferred to “Air Quality” for assistance.
It is very important that the vehicular noise beleaguered citizen understand this before we continue – the Federal Government regulates motor vehicle noise on production motorcycles for one very significant reason – a concern for the protection of the health and welfare of you and your family, the American Citizen. The responsibility for ensuring those production motorcycles remain in compliance with Federal noise standards was delegated to our Local and State Law Enforcement Community in 1981 and people, they have and they are failing the American citizen miserably. And we, the vehicular NOISE beleaguered American Citizen, cannot coerce our law enforcement to intercede and protect us – law enforcement cannot be coerced into enforcing the law!
With that said, for those responsible for protecting us from the Loud Motorcycle Cult[ure], should you garner the interest or concern, we do have the benefits of the US EPA’s Code of Federal Regulations that is just as valid today as the day it was enacted. It is the Code of Federal Regulations that provides us with the foundation permitting law enforcement to successfully and efficiently enforce motor vehicle muffler laws containing the statute elements “excessive or unusual noise” and/or “factory-installed muffler.”
The Code of Federal Regulations and Motorcycle Noise
The relevant sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for our discussion can be viewed in their entirety at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40cfr205_main_02.tpl ; therefore, permit me to briefly discuss the following CFR sections for clarification purposes.
Concerned about motorcycle noise emissions and its negative impact on our health and welfare, the US EPA opted to reduce the “total” motorcycle noise emissions limitation from 83 dB(A) to 78 dB(A) back in 1986. It has been brought to my attention that Suzuki had protested the noise emissions reduction stating that 78 dB(A) would be cost prohibitive; therefore, in 1986 the US EPA compromised and settled on 80 dB(A) “total” motorcycle noise emissions as the “minimum” level of motorcycle noise emissions-protection for the general public.
Note that I refer to 80 dB(A) as being the “total” motorcycle noise emissions restriction as per the CFR. What is the relevance of “total” motorcycle noise emissions? Any motorcycle seeking EPA certification for roadway use must pass the strict, scientifically controlled testing parameters as per the CFR. A sample or samples of the make and model of motorcycle seeking public roadway use certification is tested in a scientifically controlled environment. The test motorcycle is accelerated to maximum brake horsepower (SAE J331a full throttle pass-by test) between two designated points and said motorcycle is evaluated for sound emissions at 49.2 feet on each side of the test motorcycle. Every moving part on that test motorcycle is evaluated in their totality and the sum total cannot exceed 80 dB(A). Stop for a moment and consider how quiet the factory-installed muffler must be in order to dampen engine noise to a level that does not contribute to “total” motorcycle noise emissions over 80 dB(A).
Once the test motorcycle passes the required drive-by testing procedure, the muffler to be installed on that compliant motorcycle must be permanently labeled in a readily visible location and contain specific text, see: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=7bdb7459f733d2f5cb794264d64230bb&mc=true&node=se40.27.205_1158&rgn=div8
The US EPA, via the Code of Federal Regulations, has enacted “Tampering” restrictions that stipulate it is a violation of Federal Law to tamper with or remove the approved factory-installed muffler – if replacement is necessary, the replacement muffler must meet the acoustical dampening characteristics of the original factory-installed muffler. Also, be aware of the obfuscation and lies of the Motorcycle Rights Organizations who will tell you that the Factory-installed muffler’s acoustical dampening characteristics are only valid for one-year or 3730 miles. This is a lie and ploy of the MRO’s – the Acoustical Assurance Period (AAP), as noted in the CFR, is simply a manufacturer warranty to the customer, but the acoustical dampening qualities of the US EPA approved factory-installed muffler is intended to remain in compliance for the LIFE of the motorcycle. Please view the following URL’s if you have any questions about the Acoustical Assurance Period (AAP)…
So then, in this section we’ve established that the US EPA’s Code of Federal Regulations restricts total motorcycle noise emissions for 1986 year model motorcycles forward to 80 dB(A). We’ve also established that the US EPA approved factory-installed muffler must be permanently labeled in a “readily visible location” and that it is a violation of Federal Law to tamper with the noise emissions systems on a compliant motorcycle – and – if the US EPA approved muffler must be replaced, the replacement muffler must conform to the acoustical dampening characteristics of the original factory-installed muffler.
The CFR – State Muffler Laws and Sound Comparison Analysis
I’m not sure how many times during my enforcement years I was questioned about sound-meters and the questionable subjectivity arising from a muffler law allegedly possessing no “objective” standard. In fact, during my latter years with the Houston PD, I was called into the patrol office by my patrol supervisor and ordered to stop enforcing the vehicular noise ordinance due to subjectivity concerns.
I researched legal precedent regarding the concerns initiating the unlawful order especially considering the fact that this particular supervisor owned and operated an incredibly LOUD racing Corvette and drove the illegally LOUD vehicle to roll-call at 0545 hours in the morning. My search for precedent met with fruition and I discovered the Texas Appellate Court case of Aaron C. Aguilar v. State of Texas (2008) see: http://law.justia.com/cases/texas/fourth-court-of-appeals/2008/20953.html
In the Texas Appeals Case of Aguilar v. Texas, a Justice Catherine Stone, within her memorandum, clearly articulates the authority of a police officer to subjectively determine what is “excessive or unusual noise” emanating from a motor vehicle. I submitted this precedent to the supervisor who had ordered me to stop citing noisy motor vehicles, but said supervisor was unrelenting and demanded that my noisy vehicle enforcement be stopped; therefore, I subsequently wrote a letter to Houston’s City Legal Department requesting their opinion relevant to the Constitutionality of the noisy vehicle law. After five long months of waiting, Houston’s Legal Department overturned the supervisors order affirming the Constitutionality of the law.
Fact is, Texas’ Muffler Law, 547.604 is NOT “subjective” even though said law, like most State muffler laws, uses the statutory elements of,
(a) A motor vehicle shall be equipped with a muffler in good working condition that continually operates to prevent excessive or unusual noise. (Emphasis mine)
Okay, this is where the “rubber meets the road” and confusion abounds regarding the applicability and enforce-ability of our muffler laws in this Nation, forty-six of which do not specify the use of a sound-meter as an “objective” standard.
First of all, please understand that if the State muffler law does not contain the statutory elements specifically outlining the parameters of sound-meter implementation, the instrument cannot be introduced as evidence during adjudication. Second, any municipality that has usurped the simplicity of their State muffler law by means of enacting a sound-meter oriented ordinance has done a serious disservice to the vehicular NOISE beleaguered citizenry within their jurisdiction.
“Excessive or Unusual Noise” is an Objective Standard
Whenever a State muffler statute contains the elements of “excessive or unusual noise” or “factory-installed muffler” or “conforms to the original equipment,” you HAVE AN OBJECTIVE STANDARD IN THE LAW. How can that be?
Remember when we discussed the “total” motorcycle noise emissions in the paragraphs above and the “total” motorcycle noise emissions for 1986 year model street motorcycles forward is 80 dB(A) – and – that 80 dB(A) is the “minimum” level of protection for the general public relevant to motorcycle noise emissions protection? Okay then, let me ask you, what is “excessive or unusual noise” emanating from a motorcycles exhaust mechanism? Yes, exactly…any sound over that which is emitted by the quiet, factory-installed muffler which has been approved, certified, labeled in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations.
Noise Comparison Analysis (NCA)
You see, our “objective standard,” relevant to forty-six of the State enacted muffler laws containing “excessive or unusual noise” and/or the “factory-installed muffler,” is the OEM, US EPA approved muffler that was originally installed on the motorcycle by the manufacturer. I understand that this is NOT rocket science, but it’s amazing how many law enforcement officials naively consider their State’s muffler law to be unenforceable. NONSENSE! Why does a municipality or a State want to encumber itself with sound-meter legislation when the US EPA approved muffler has already been tested, evaluated in a scientifically controlled environment and the “minimum” level of noise emissions protection has already been established? Why encumber law enforcement and the courts/prosecutorial protocol with unnecessary redundancy and the inevitable adjudicatory failures and problems inherent with sound-meter legislation? I remember speaking with a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives concerning a sound-meter motorcycle noise law he had introduced. I begged and warned the Representative relevant to the self-defeating nature of introducing sound-meters into motorcycle noise enforcement legislation, his response? “How do you know if a motorcycle is too loud if you don’t use a sound-meter?”
Using “Noise Comparison Analysis,” here is the protocol for a traffic stop and subsequent citation relevant to a LOUD motorcycle…
- Patrol officer observes and hears a very loud motorcycle and initiates a stop based on the precedent provided by Aguilar v. Texas – a subjective analysis that the vehicle in question is in violation of the muffler statute.
- Subsequent to the stop and safety protocol, the officer examines the motorcycle for equipment violations and observes the muffler – is the EPA label present? Some manufacturers, like Harley Davidson, have skirted the Federal Regulations and instead of placing the required muffler label in a “readily visible location,” they have embossed the muffler label at the four to five O’clock position low, almost under the muffler – citing “aesthetic” concerns. This is a violation of the Code of Federal Regulations and must be reported to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
- Is the muffler properly labeled, but obviously NOISY? Always check for signs of tampering with the muffler canister. Some violators are rude and crude and will simply cut-out or chisel-out the baffling, others are more methodical and carefully cut open the muffler canister, remove part or all of the acoustical dampening material then carefully wire-weld the incision closed. Some other NOISE mongers drill holes into the muffler canister in their pursuit of hedonistic NOISE pleasure. YouTube has videos that clearly demonstrate the various techniques of defeating the acoustical efficiency of the factory-installed muffler.
- If the motorcycle’s OEM factory-installed muffler is obviously louder than stock or if the OEM muffler has been removed and replaced with an illegally LOUD, NOT FOR ROAD USE aftermarket exhaust available on the open market, cite the violator for an infraction of the muffler law using Noise Comparison Analysis. It is the responsibility of local and State law enforcement to ensure the NOISY violator is cited and incarcerated if conditions warrant. The offending vehicle, after subsequent violations of the muffler law, should be impounded until such time arrangements are made to return said vehicle’s exhaust mechanism to its OEM, factory-installed condition. Also, a number of States prohibit the sell/retail of aftermarket exhausts that do not conform to the specifications of the factory-installed muffler; therefore, check your State’s muffler law for this retail element – if the illegal exhaust mechanism was purchased in a State that prohibits such sales, ask the local or State Prosecutor’s office with jurisdiction to pursue charges on the offending retail establishment.
- Important note for law enforcement: It has been my personal experience that the personality-type who, with intent and aforethought, modifies a motor vehicle to make excessive, illegal noise and uses same to audibly assault our children, our elderly, our handicapped, our families, often times you will discover that this is the same personality-type participating in other forms if illegal, antisocial behavior; therefore, it’s simply good police work to always perform a background check on vehicular noise violators – doubly so for the 1%ers plaguing and challenging common decency on our public roadways. If a law enforcement officer will regularly enforce the muffler laws, said officer should see a dramatic increase in their warrant arrest statistics. Again, motor vehicle noise enforcement is simply good police work.
- It is imperative that a law enforcement entity initiating the vehicular noise enforcement strategy of “Noise Comparison Analysis” ensure that their local prosecutor’s office and the local judiciary are aware of and are on-board with the Constitutionally valid enforcement procedure.
- Noise Comparison Analysis is practically “cost-less” to law enforcement, can be used by the patrol-beat officer and a minimum of training is necessary; training consisting basically of a familiarity with labeling requirements and an introduction to comparative analysis of an OEM factory installed muffler’s noise emissions compared to the egregiously LOUD NOISE emissions of an illegal aftermarket NOT FOR ROAD USE exhaust…the differentiation in noise output is stark and unmistakable. If only the most egregious violators are cited initially, this enforcement protocol will secure tremendous benefits for the law enforcement/municipal entity financially as well as increase/enhance the quality-of-life standard for millions of citizens who are regularly audibly assaulted by the NOISE bullies of the Loud Biker Cult[ure]. If the citizenry are denied a good quality-of-life standard by neglecting to enforce valid muffler laws, what else in their daily life truly matters?
If the reader of this article has a quality speaker system attached to their computer, please listen to the exhaust comparisons available in my article, “The Truth about Loud Motorcycles the Police Won’t or Can’t Tell You” at: https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/the-truth-about-loud-motorcycles-the-police-wont-or-cant-tell-you/
If I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at rickholtsclaw@Concerned Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles, rickeyholtsclaw@ or my FB Page,
Note to the Loud Biker Cult[ure]: Please refrain from responding to this article with your obscenity and your vulgarity…to see the comments, attitude and mentality of the Loud Biker Cult[ure] as they defiantly endeavor to audibly assault our most innocent, please see: https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/loud-biker-mentality-1949-v-21st-century/
Thank you for your time and interest – please, let’s stand united and let us intercede on behalf of our most innocent. If we fail to control the Loud Biker Cult[ure] and their LOUD comrades in the modified auto and truck community, our children, our posterity will never understand the concept of “domestic tranquility” as it relates to community. Please call and write your local and State law enforcement officials as well as your State and Federal Representatives – demand change, demand enforcement of the applicable muffler laws, our children, our posterity deserve better, let’s provide a better quality-of-life for them, please?
Steel Horse Motorcycle Rally – 2016 – some 80% plus of the motorcycles in this video are illegally equipped/illegally LOUD while the Ft. Smith PD enables and protects the lawless behavior…why? For money and political expediency!
Congressional Bill Proposal: The American Quality of Life Act – 2017 (A Federal Motor Vehicle Muffler Mandate): https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/the-american-quality-of-life-act-2017-a-federal-motor-vehicle-muffler-mandate/
Article: Illegally Loud Motor Vehicles? A Sound Solution: https://rickeyholtsclaw.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/illegal-motor-vehicle-noise-a-sound-solution/
Rick Holtsclaw, Houston PD/Retired – Concerned Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles – Facebook, YouTube and WordPress