Group Loses Noise Suit, Ordered To Pay Harley Dealer Attorney Fees

NH CALM (N. H. Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles) has been ordered by Federal Judge Landya McCafferty to  pay Seacoast Harley’s legal fees after losing its legal battle to enforce an overly restrictive decible limit in the town of North Hampton New Hampshire.

The law, aimed solely at motorcycles, was passed by a vote of 512-274 on May 11th 2010 which requires all motorcycles to have permanent stickers on post-1982 motorcycle exhausts indicating they meet EPA noise standards. The EPA standards are 80 Decibels while the state enforced noise level is 106 decibels. The law carried fines of between $200 and $500 for the first offense with each subsequent violation punishable by a fine of $500 to $1,000. The offending motorcycle doesn’t even need to be running to receive a ticket with the law including those that are parked as well as being operated.

Seacoast HD filed suit shortly thereafter requesting a restraining order to prevent North Hampton from enforcing the motorcycle noise ordinance, declaring that state law trumps the local ordinance in terms of motorcycle noise.

Loud Exhaust; Safety or Expression?

“The ordinance has the effect of making the majority of Seacoast’s (Harley dealership) entire used motorcycle inventory illegal,” according to the suit, which further notes that after-market exhaust pipes, which are popular among Harley owners, do not have EPA stickers.

The dealership’s attorney says he is owed $8,807 in costs for the case that never went to trial.

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