Briefing Room: Seal Beach Police Department and noise enforcement

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Do motorcycles have the same noise requirements as cars? Most are very noisy. Often on the freeway when they zoom past the sudden noise is very scary.  The noise most motorcycles make is very offensive.  Yet they continue to get by with the noise and is seems law enforcement seems not to enforce the noise requirement. Also, if a police officer does stop them is there a fine?  Or do they just have to remedy like a broken tail light?

Thanks:

Donn

Hi Donn,

Thanks for your question.  I needed some help answering your question so I asked Sergeant Eric Hendry.  Sgt. Hendry is our resident expert on all things automotive.  He’s been to training on the laws surrounding modified vehicles (and he has restored several classic cars!).  Here’s what Sergeant Hendry told me:

“Do motorcycles have the same noise requirements as cars?”

No. Modern passenger vehicles are required to emit no more than 95 decibels and modern motorcycles a maximum of 80 decibels. Some decibel graphs suggest a vacuum cleaner runs at about 70 decibels and a power mower at 90 decibels. Many modified vehicles have decibel levels as that of a chainsaw that is over 100 decibels. Enforcement does not require the officer to use a decibel level reader but a reading based on training and experience.

“If a police officer does stop them is there a fine?  Or do they just have to remedy like a broken tail light?”

Passenger vehicles who are cited for modified exhaust systems are allowed to repair the vehicle into compliance and have the fine reduced such as a broken taillight. Motorcycles with modified exhaust systems are issued non-correctable citations causing the violator to show proof to the court of repair and are issued significant fines.

“Seems law enforcement seems not to enforce the noise requirement.”

SBPD has sent several officers to training involving the enforcement of vehicles with modified exhaust. SBPD has been educating the public for years on these issues with sign boards stating modified exhaust will be strictly enforced. We have conducted directed enforcement operations citing violators with modified vehicles. Our officers have written hundreds of citations specifically for modified exhaust systems. Officers have ordered many of those violator vehicles off the roadway to appointments with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) for closer emission inspection.

Donn, we know loud exhaust is annoying and it is disruptive.  We will continue to do our best to enforce these laws.

Dear Motor Officer,

I often stop in at Ralphs supermarket in the Marina Pacifica Shopping Center on my way to work in Los Angeles.  When I leave, I exit the parking lot and go NORTH on PCH.  I often get dirty looks from other drivers and bicyclists, but there is no sign that says “Right Turn Only,” or “No Left Turn.”  Am I at risk for getting a ticket for continuing to do this?

Thanks.

Bob

Bob, thanks for asking this question.  Although the intersection you mentioned is in Long Beach, I’ll do my best to answer your question.

In short, you cannot turn left there.  The reason is because the “middle lane” isn’t really a lane at all.  I can understand why people are confused about this.  From the California Driver Handbook: “Two sets of solid double yellow lines spaced 2 feet or more apart are considered a barrier. Do not drive on or over this barrier, make a left turn, or a U-turn across it, except at designated openings.”  Treat the middle area between north and southbound lanes of traffic on PCH in front of Marina Pacifica as a barrier and do not cross it.

This is different from a center left turn lane (which you can enter and turn to or from).  From the DMV Driver Handbook again: “A center left turn lane is located in the middle of a two-way street and is marked on both sides by two painted lines. The inner line is broken and the outer line is solid. If a street has a center left turn lane, you must use it to prepare for or make a left turn, or to prepare for or make a permitted U-turn (CVC §21460.5 (c)). You may only drive for 200 feet in the center left turn lane. This lane is not a regular traffic lane or a passing lane.”

To find pictures of these lanes and learn more about the California Vehicle Code, please visit:  https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/california-driver-handbook/lane-control/.