Driving Through New York With a Loud Exhaust? That Will Be $1,000!

Side-mounted exhaust 6 photos
Photo: Markus Spiske on
If you happen to own or drive a vehicle that has a loud exhaust, you might want to do your best to avoid driving it in the state of New York going forward. You will be free to drive there, but you might face a fine of $1,000 if you get caught doing so because the state's Governor signed a new bill called SLEEP.
The new bill is meant to curb street racing, not protect the sleep of NY state residents, as its name might suggest. And it appears that legislators have decided that loud exhausts equal street racing. Now, you should also know that the state of New York did have a loud exhaust fine before this moment, but it stood at $150. So, the fine was bumped by $850, which is a significant hike.

According to SEMA, the new fine in the state of New York is the biggest in the U.S. after exceeding the $500 fine (per violation) in Colorado. Back when the bill was proposed, motorcycle exhausts and mufflers would have to not exceed 95 decibels, while car mufflers and exhaust systems would not be allowed to exceed 60 decibels without getting fined.

Another important change brought by the bill is the possibility of removing the license of a workshop if that service operator is caught installing excessively-loud exhaust systems or mufflers to vehicles.

The license removal procedure for a workshop would function on a three-strike basis, but it should make many technicians think twice before agreeing to de-cat or fit a straight pipe system to a vehicle upon a customer's request.

Mind you, for a driver or a rider to get a fine for having an exhaust that is too loud, it should have to be inspected with a decibel reader. Because of the high number of complaints on the matter of street racing in the five boroughs, other actions have been proposed to "pump the brakes on street racing." New York has had an increase in street racing during the pandemic, as the NY Times reported.

One of the other proposed actions involved fitted noise-detecting tools to identify and track loud cars as they drive by those devices. Think of them like red-light cameras or speed cameras, but fitted with decibel meters instead.

If you ask us, linking a decibel meter to a camera and issuing fines without an additional check could be a problem, because it would make it difficult to identify where the loud noise comes from. The best way is an in-person check with a decibel meter.

Other legislators proposed fitting nighttime speed cameras on streets where street racing is believed to happen, as the Gothamist reports. That proposal might curb street racing, as it would involve issuing fines to those who drive at high speed on public roads.

However, we think that each of these issues has a law against it, and all that it takes to curb anything against that law is a complaint and an employee of the state to check if the law is obeyed and fine those who do not obey it.

Other states and individual cities have found diverse ways to curb street racing, including closing streets to ensure a safe perimeter for those interested in drifting or drag racing. The safest thing to do if you desire to drift or to drag race is to do it on the track.

It might cost more than doing something illegal and not getting caught, but it is cheaper when compared to getting caught or, worse, crashing your vehicle while street racing or drifting. The legal consequences of those actions outweigh the cost of renting a car for a track day or going to the drag strip with your daily.
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Editor's note: Photo gallery features images from sideshows in California for illustation purposes.

About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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