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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California Wants Quieter Motorcycles

California Wants All Exhaust to Be EPA Approved

It’s a trend that is quietly building momentum across the country.  States and Cities are enacting legislation to force motorcyclists to comply with federal noise emission standards as a way to quiet loud pipes.

On Monday August 30, California joined the growing number of states who passed legislation making it a crime to operate a motorcycle manufactured after Jan. 1, 2013, without a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency label certifying that the bike’s exhaust meets the federal standard.

The problem, say critics, is that most of the EPA stamps and labels on stock exhaust pipes are difficult if not impossible to find and as a result, many motorcyclists will be unfairly ticketed and harrassed.

The police chief of North Hampton Maine told lawmakers that clean stock pipes on the police department’s Harley-Davidson’s are easy to locate if you lay on the ground, but that would require two officers to check.  “I would still need two people (present when checking a motorcycle for the EPA label),” Page was quoted on Seacoast online saying  that he would want one officer in position to watch the operator while the other checked for the label. “I’m not going to have anyone lie under the cycle with the rider (on it).”

New York and Denver have passed similar legislation this year.