Anyone who’s ever had a muffler rust off knows this dilemma: Do you just get another boring quiet one, or do you test the noise limits of your given area and let the sweet, sweet sounds of the inline-four your mother bought you echo off the hills? I come bearing bad news for fans of the latter. The powers-that-be in California are sick of hearing your exhaust note and passed a new law that will fine you for it.
The California Highway Police’s Antelope Valley office confirmed that a bill lamented by r/cars on Reddit had gone into effect this year, and any aftermarket exhaust that’s deemed too loud on California’s public roads will incur a fine:
New California Law for 2019. As of January 1, 2019, a modified exhaust on an automobile or motorcycle, excessively loud, can no longer be cited as a correctable violation. Assembly Bill AB1824 has taken away the opportunity to correct the violation and requires a citation for such violation to result in a fine only. In many cases may also result in a trip to the Bureau of Automotive Repair B.A.R. If you feel your vehicle is grossly negligent in this area, removing resonators, deleting mufflers etc. You know who you are. Don’t waste your hard earned money on this violation. Drive safe everyone.
CHP’s Facebook post also weirdly used a photograph of a quieter-than-stock exhaust setup on a Porsche 911 running notoriously noise-strict Laguna Seca with their announcement which wouldn’t run afoul of the new law, but we’ll give them a pass on that for relaying a worthy heads-up.
Previously, officers in California gave what’s commonly called a “fix-it ticket” for many minor vehicular violations, including for excessive noise made by inadequate or improperly modified exhaust systems. They were listed as “correctable violations,” as they’re easily remedied fixes.
That’s much fairer than fining for a noise violation on first offense, as maybe something just fell off and you didn’t notice until now, or something you installed was louder than you expected it to be. After all, as far as breakin’ the law goes, noise violations are mostly harmless—more of an irritant if anything.
But the passage of Assembly Bill No. 1824 back in June changed that for the worse. AB 1824 carved out an exception to the usual practice of writing up a quick fix-it ticket for automotive exhaust noise violations. Other minor mechanicals will still likely get a notice to correct, where you have to present proof that you fixed the issue by a certain date, and then you’re off the hook. A noise violation, on the other hand, will incur “other appropriate enforcement action,” which CHP clarified will be a fine.
The sound limit in California is 95 dBA for motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating less than 6,000 pounds (read: probably you). Be careful if you’re driving a modified car out there.
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