Noise Pollution – Amplified Noise Ordinances

Date: 12 Jan 2009 | posted in: environment | 3 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Many communities have enacted laws defining maximum levels for amplified noise (similar to muffler laws for autos). City governments can amend the community noise ordinance to add these provisions, enact a whole new ordinance that includes these provisions, or enact this law to stand alone. The only real difference is the distance from the the noise source from which a violation is determined, which varies between 25 and 150 feet in most ordinances.

A “plainly audible” standard has been applied in many places across the United States, and this standard has been held to be neither vague nor overbroad (State v. Ewing, 914 P.2d 549, Haw. 1996). It is also unambiguous to those it is intended to regulate.

Below is a model code provided by the Noise Consultancy that covers amplified noise from stationary sources (not just cars). Following is a an actual code enacted in Nashville, Tennessee that regulates car stereo noise.

The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse is the primary on-line resource for noise pollution information.


Model Amplified Noise Code

CODE PROVISIONS

DEFINITION

“Plainly audible” means any sound that can be detected by a person using his or her unaided hearing faculties. As an example, if the sound source under investigation is a portable or personal vehicular sound amplification or reproduction device, the enforcement officer need not determine the title of a song, specific words, or the artist performing the song. The detection of the rhythmic bass component of the music is sufficient to constitute a plainly audible sound.

RESTRICTED USES AND ACTIVITIES

(1)Personal or commercial music amplification or reproduction equipment shall not be operated in such a manner that it is plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., sound from such equipment shall not be plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet in any direction from the operator. (2)Self-contained, portable, hand-held music or sound amplification or reproduction equipment shall not be operated on a public space or public right-of-way in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., sound from such equipment shall not be plainly audible by any person other than the operator.


Nashville, TN

Chapter 11.12 OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC PEACE

11.12.070 Excessive noise–Use of televisions and radios restricted.

C.No person operating or occupying a motor vehicle on any street, highway, alley, parking lot, or driveway, either public or private property, shall operate or permit the operation of any sound amplification system, including, but not limited to, any radio, tape player, compact disc player, loud speaker, or any other electrical device used for the amplification of sound from within the motor vehicle so that the sound is plainly audible at a distance of fifty or more feet from the vehicle or, in the case of a motor vehicle on private property, beyond the property line. For the purpose of this subsection, “plainly audible” means any sound which clearly can be heard, by unimpaired auditory senses based on a direct line of sight of fifty or more feet, however, words or phrases need not be discernible and said sound shall include bass reverberation. Prohibitions contained in this section shall not be applicable to emergency or public safety vehicles, vehicles owned and operated by the metropolitan government or any utility company, for sound emitted unavoidably during job-related operation, or any motor vehicle used in an authorized public activity for which a permit has been granted by the appropriate agency of the metropolitan government.