What have the states done about regulating motorcycle noise emissions? The short answer is: not much.
Most state laws simply require "mufflers" without clearly defining what proper mufflers are. They only require that the mufflers "prevent excessive usual noise" and leave the interpretation of that up to local law enforcement and the courts. Usually, they will allow virtually any “muffler" and leave the state and the police with the burden of proving that the noise emissions of motorcycles equipped with competition-class mufflers are too loud.
The advocates of "loud pipes" (a term often used to describe illegal exhaust noise enhancing motorcycle exhaust systems) love what they see as "anything goes" muffler laws and exploit them with vigor and vehemently oppose more precise muffler laws that prohibit the types of mufflers and exhaust systems they want to use on their motorcycles. They hate tampering prohibitions and seek to have them removed, or at least, unenforced. Their disdain for muffler standards and tampering prohibitions provides a hint as to what should be done to effectively mitigate the problem. Establish motorcycle noise limits, muffler standards, tampering prohibitions, and actively enforce them.
The Role of the Police
The role of the police is to enforce the motor vehicle noise and muffler laws of the states and the ordinances of their political subdivisions.
To do that, all the police have to do is follow these four simple steps that they have been authorized to follow for years. And yes, the police have to expend some energy, as no law enforces itself.
The Four-Step Process
- Observe the plainly audible excessive noise emitted by a loud motorcycle.
- Stop the vehicle.
- Issue the appropriate citation.
- Show up in court and testify to what was observed and what law was obviously violated.
That simple four-step process should be very familiar to police departments and the police should already be very adept in employing it. The police just have to employ it for dealing with excessively loud motorcycles and not be hesitant in doing it.
However, many cities and police departments do not take the issue seriously and do not have the will to enforce motor vehicle noise laws. Others look for gimmicks that don't require any effort at all on the part of the city and its police department, such as asking the operators of loud motorcycles that have been illegally modified to be loud to operate their loud motorcycles" quietly" when in town, which is essentially impossible for them to do and is a totally silly and useless motorcycle noise control policy. There is a much more practical way to enforce motor vehicle noise laws.