AMA Legal News
A new California law requires street motorcycles registered in the state and built on or after Jan. 1, 2013, to have an exhaust system label certifying the motorcycles meet federal sound limits, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
On Sept. 28, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 435, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavey (D-Agoura Hills). While motorcycle manufacturers have been complying with the federal law since it was effective in 1983, the new law now makes it a state crime to operate any motorcycle registered in the state that was built on or after Jan. 1, 2013, that doesn’t have a federal Environmental Protection Agency exhaust system sound emissions label.
In addition, the law requires aftermarket exhaust systems made on or after Jan. 1, 2013, to display the EPA sound emissions label, and therefore applies to individuals who seek to replace the exhaust system on affected streetbikes.
To view the legislation, click here.
Thousands of motorcyclists utilized the AMA website at AmericanMotorcyclist.com first to oppose the bill, and then to urge Schwarzenegger to reject it.
AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris expressed major concerns about the new law.
Nick Haris says: "Many EPA labels are very difficult to locate on motorcycles," Haris said. "This law could lead to a flurry of tickets for motorcyclists who have legal exhaust systems with EPA labels on their machines that can’t be easily seen. It’s unreasonable to expect a law enforcement officer to easily locate an EPA label, and it’s simply unfair to expect a motorcycle owner to partially dismantle an exhaust system along the roadside to prove the label exists."
Violators face fines of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $250 for subsequent offenses. Judges have the discretion to dismiss the fine for first-time offenders if the violation is corrected.
Also, a violation is considered a secondary offense, meaning a police officer can’t stop a motorcyclist solely because the officer believes the motorcyclist is breaking the sound emissions label law.
Nick Haris says: "Requiring that a motorcycle display a readily visible EPA label isn’t the appropriate way to address concerns about excessive motorcycle sound, which the AMA has pointed out repeatedly."
"The only objective way to determine whether a motorcycle complies with sound laws is for properly trained personnel to conduct sound level tests using calibrated meters and an agreed-upon testing procedure."
In 1972, Congress passed the federal Noise Control Act, which required the EPA to set sound standards for a number of products. It took several years, but the EPA eventually wrote rules affecting all new motorcycles sold in the U.S. beginning in 1983.
Those regulations, which still stand today, required that all street-legal motorcycles be limited to 83 decibels at that time, with a stricter, 80-decibel limit imposed beginning in 1986.
The AMA has long maintained a position of strong opposition to excessive motorcycle sound.
In September 2009, the AMA developed model legislation for use by cities and states seeking a simple, consistent and economical way to deal with sound complaints related to on-highway motorcycles within the larger context of excessive sound from all sources.
The model legislation offers an objective method to evaluate motorcycle sound based on the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) J2825 standard, "Measurement of Exhaust Sound Pressure Levels of Stationary On-Highway Motorcycles."
For more information, click here.