California’s New Loud Law Can Cost You $1,000

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Earlier this month, G35 Driver forum member Edgarc6789 posted some news that bears repeating. California issued a new exhaust law, and based on early reactions, auto enthusiasts who have spent time and money modifying their exhaust systems are not pleased. According to the CHP Information Bulletin No. 98-100, excessive exhaust noise is not permitted in passenger vehicles, light trucks, and motorcycles. Vehicle Codes 21750 through 27150 have been in play since 2017, and the new legislation has not made California vehicle exhaust noise laws more strict.  Assembly Bill 1824 makes it mandatory for police officers to issue immediate tickets to offenders. These mandatory fines can range upwards of $1,000. Prior to the January, police officers were only required to issue “fix it” tickets, which gave car owners 30 days to modify their exhaust systems and prove they made the adjustments.

The legal limit for vehicle exhaust noise in California is 95 decibels (or dBA). But this information alone is not enough to determine if you are over or under the legal limit. As a point of reference, a 100 dB level at 100 Hz is perceived to have a loudness equal to only 80 dB at 1000 Hz. Most factory installed exhaust systems even on powerful sports cars don’t exceed 75 dBA, but some stock vehicles (such as the Cayman GT4 and the turbo BMW M4 GTS) achieve more than 95 dBA straight out of the factory, complicating issues. According to the new bill, enforcement officers are asked to “exercise sound professional judgment” in determining whether or not a car is too loud for the road. The guidelines require officers to issue citations to drivers whose vehicles “are not equipped with a muffler, clearly emit an offensive, harsh, excessive noise, or have a clearly defective exhaust system.”  Additionally, any bypass, cutouts, and whistle tips are not permitted.

How Loud are 95 Decibels?

If you want to know what 95 decibels sounds like, turn on your lawn mower, stand in the middle of a moving subway car, stand within three feet of a food blender, stand within 10 feet of a honking car, or stand under a plane flying at 1,000 feet.

If you want to know how loud your car is, you can download apps for both the iPhone and Android.

G35Driver Forum Members React

Yes, there are cars that are simply too loud for the street. Yes, there are bikes out there that are even louder. It seems that knuckleheads who have posted YouTube videos of themselves doing donuts and burnouts on public streets (takeovers) have hung a lantern on this issue. Perhaps the best forum response came from gary c, who wrote, “First violation for talking/holding your cell while driving is only $76 but modified exhaust is (are you sitting down) $1K!” For more forum reactions and information, click here.

What to Do if You Get a Ticket

If you do receive a ticket, you need to make the necessary repairs and then schedule an appointment with the California Referee Center. Be sure to bring your traffic ticket and vehicle registration with you. The Referee Center will conduct an exhaust noise test. If the test determines your vehicle is still not within legal noise limits, you will be required to repair it before attempting another test. If your vehicle is under 95 dB, you will be issued a “Certificate of Compliance.” This certificate must be presented in Traffic Court. More information can be found on the California Bureau of Automotive Repair website.

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