New California Motorcycle Exhaust Law

California Exhaust Law

On Sept. 28, Governor and motorcycle rider Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 435, sponsored by California Senator Fran Pavley (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.

Yes, it is new very clear that this 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.

In addition, the California law requires aftermarket motorcycle 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.

Apparently, thousands of motorcyclists first tried to oppose the California bill, and then to urge Schwarzenegger to reject it.

Nick Haris says: "Many EPA labels are very difficult to locate on motorcycles. 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," explains the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) Western States Representative expressed major concerns about the new California motorcycle exhaust law.

"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. California 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.

"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," continues the AMA motorcycle advocate.

"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, measured with a ride-by test.

The AMA had developed model legislation for use by cities and states seeking a simple, consistent and economical way to deal excessive motorcycle sound.

The model legislation offers an objective method to evaluate motorcycle pipe sound based on the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) J2825 standard, "Measurement of Exhaust Sound Pressure Levels of Stationary On-Highway Motorcycles," which is a stationary test.

To view the California excessive motorcycle exhaust sound legislation, click here.