I hear a rumor that a lawyer is challenging the Denver Noise Ordinance.

California Motorcycle Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez discusses the challenge to the Denver Noise OrdinanceI have been reading articles all over the internet about a lawyer who is challenging the Denver noise ordinance on the basis that Police Motorcycles that are Harley Davidson’s do not meet Denver’s 80 decibel noise standard, therefore the law as enacted is arbitrary and unduly broad.

The trouble with the article I have been reading is that no one has named the lawyer. It is almost like a rumor as far as I am concerned. If someone knows the name of the lawyer, please post a comment on this article so I can contact the lawyer.

I have a big problem with the basis for challenging the law. In most States and municipalities, law enforcement vehicles are exempt from ordinary traffic laws so that they can do their job.

Arguing that the Police stock Harley Davidson Motorcycles that the police in Denver use, do not meet the 80db standard seems almost ludicrous as a basis for setting aside the law. What the argument is basically saying is that no stock Harley Davidson’s would be within the law. This would give the police a basis for pulling over all Harley Davidson Motorcycles!

I do not like where this is going. If anyone has any information on the challenge to the noise law in Denver please contact me. You can also shoot me an email through the system by clicking the email icon next to my name.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © 2007

31 Responses to I hear a rumor that a lawyer is challenging the Denver Noise Ordinance.

  1. His name is Wade Eldridge, and he’s a biker himself.

    For me this fight has nothing to do with the noise (which is a totally different subject), but for discrimination towards motorcycles. The law only applies to motorcycles, and not cars, and anything to highlight this is good.

    It’s a ‘grasping at straws’ attempt, but a fair one.

  2. Good luck Norm. Maybe you can help the Colorado lawyer out with a few “good” suggestions. I sure hope that someone does something to get this “stupid” and discriminatory law set aside. If a law passes in one State….it seems likely it will pass in other States. I wonder if bikers are staying out of that State??

  3. Hi, as a long time rider (33 years), I am in favour of the police enforcing noise standards for motorcycles. I believe that noisy bikes annoy our neighbours, who will eventually persuade their legislators to pass laws that will remove our ability to ride, even if only on a local area.

    As responsible riders, we have an obligation to inform other riders who are annoying our neighbours, that their actions are illegal and harmful to our collective rights.

    The law in denver may be flawed, however hopefully it will be improved, and enforced.

    Regards, Rod.

  4. Ros: I do not see how motorcycles, especially Harley’s can offend and make too much noise for anyone. A bike is usually moving and the sound passes with the bike. I find crotch rockets to be offensive as they make their bee buzzing sound…but it passes quickly and it is not like a constant sound outside my window. I hope the law in Denver is set aside as it is unconstitutional. The people we vote into office to represent us..the citizens…need to protect the bikers. As a long time rider, you should be for the rights of a biker.

  5. Hi, I do, as a long term rider support the rights of riders.

    I do not however, support noisy motorcycles, that annoy our fellow citizens. I believe our individual rights have to respectful of the rights of society in general.

    I’m surprised that you single out Harley Davidson as an example of motorcycles that cannot make enough noise to offend anyone. In my experience, Harley Davidson motorcycles are the majority of the noisy bikes. I realize that my personal experience may not be statistically sound, and would appreciate anyone who has sound statistics to post them, or a link to a site with them.

    The noise problem will either be solved by riders voluntarily, or by legislators. I’m sure we would all like the voluntary approach better.

    I would suggest that when you meet riders with loud motorcycles. you inform them of the damage they are doing to our reputation, and that their actions are jeaporadising our right to ride motorcyles.

    Regards, Rod.

  6. To Rod Sheridan: I disagree with you strongly, I think the crotch rockets are louder than any Harley Davidson. I think their sound is much more offensive. I am pretty sure if the pipes were measured for sound the crotch rockets are louder.

  7. My bike is a harley and has loud pipes. They save my life about 9 times here in Dallas, Tx. where we get the mixing pot of people from around the world and cage drivers are SCARY! When they here my pipes it seems they can’t talk on the cell phone while driving. So they either move away from me or get off the cell phone. When I’m in my neighborhood which is in the upper class of Dallas, I don’t have any problems from my neighbors, becuase I try to gear up and keep the pipes as low as I can. I don’t race up and down my street roaring out my pipes, but I do pay attention to how loud they are especially when I come in late and people are sleeping. It’s all respect. Just as my neighbor is out side on sat and sun starting at 9am with his chainsaw every weekend cutting down his trees or his blower after he mows his lawn. Believe me, this guy is a fanatic about his yard. He was doing this long before we purchased our bikes.

    “LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES”
    James

  8. As a 25 year member of ABATE in California, Indiana, Illinois and now Colorado I have been involved in many fights for motorcycle rights. And the new noise ordinance law in Denver was brought about because of our own negligence in self policing ourselves. How many times have you set off a car alarm, or wrapped the pipes to hear them echo of the buildings, or drove through the neighborhood to late at night, to fast and to loud. This is a very bias ordinance and should be, if not removed, at least negotiated to a reasonable solution. To begin with all of us bikers can start by policing ourselves. This is also how we ended up with an Under 18 helmet law in Colorado. One guy putting his 3 year old on the gas tank and riding by someones home who had the ear of a representative in the state. Fortunately this law comes up for review in December and hopefully we will stand a chance to get our side heard. For those interested the new noise ordinance also comes up for review in December. Wish all of the Motorcycle Right Organizations good luck in our fight for your rights. Better yet if you are not currently a member of an MRO now would be a real good time to join, the more members the bigger our voice.

  9. I am a former mc rider, and without a doubt harley-davidson type motorcycles are the loudest. I live near a busy street, so I hear them all day long. I don’t hear honda civics, and I don’t hear japanese bikes. I consider myself an expert witness. I consider myself unbiased, I have riden both types, and enjoy both types. If you say that the decibel level of other bikes or cars are louder than your average HD, you’re just being ignorant.

    It comes down to this:
    Many riders nowadays have no respect for others around them, and they somehow believe that everyone wants to hear their loud bike. Some also do it just to annoy their community, and from a psychological perspective, this goes back to a general maturity issue, and a “look at me” type syndrome. Its understandable, everyone wants to be heard, and this is a way for some HD owners to accomplish this. And saying that your loud exhaust saves lives doesn’t warrant you annoying your community, there are other alternatives. Bikes are dangerous, don’t make your community pay the price for your risk. And don’t blame bad drivers.. we all know they exist, and inventing another annoyance to counter this problem doesn’t help anything.

    Instead, take it upon yourself to muffle your bike to a reasonable level. Contribute to society, don’t fight society. Somehow, some feel that in order to be a real HD rider, that they need to be rebelious and have a general ‘f-you’ attitude towards the public. Its easier to be “mean and tough”, then to just be yourself and be respectful to those around you. Take the road less traveled.

    The way I see it, you can help out your community by lowering the noise level, or you can fight uncle sam and get owned by a law within the next few years. Then you’ll be paying for tickets and just getting more pissed off. Also take in mind that you are affecting those around you… seriously.

  10. BIGPAL, as a visitor we welcome you. I must tell you that I think your comment on Harley’s being the loudest is ignorant to me. I believe that the Japan made crotch rockets are much louder as are the crotch rockets made in the USA. Crotch rockets have the most offensive bee hive sound and whine I have ever heard. I would recommend you go to any Harley Dealership and listen to a Harley…any harley off the floor and I am sure you will see that Harley’s stock pipes are not the loudest. We live in the USA and each is entitled to their own opinion. Harley owners are also afforded the constitutional right to disagree. I believe most members and even visitors will disagree with your comment as well. I also disagree with you on the personality of Harley riders. I ride with lawyers, engineers who are employed at Kennedy Space Center, active and retired police officers…I do not know how you polled the motorcycle industry on Harley owners personalities and the type of people if you did, and I doubt. Futhermore, we as Harley owners and riders have rights as well. Most people who make comments like you are jealous they are unable to own a Harley and are wannabees. I bid you good day.

  11. It is my understanding that decibels are measured (for the purpose of noise-law enforcement) at a certaind distance from the tip of the pipe. Now, a scientific law of physics states that decibels drop approximately 1/2 for every 18 inches you move away from the source. Therefore, a Pipe that emits 80dB is only heard at 40dB if you put your ear 18 inches from the pipe WHILE it is being revved! Move another 18 inches to a total distance of ONLY THREE FEET, and the dB level would now be at 20dB. Again, your ear would have to be ONLY THREe FEET AWAY from the tip of the pipe WHILE it is being REVVED UP to produce 80dB. Bikes at idle do NOT produce that level of dB. At 4-1/2 feet, the dB would be a MERE 10dB! That’s lower than your stereo or your shiny new big-screen tv!!!! Not to mention, how many people walk around with their ears 4-1/2 feet away from pipes all day???? This is all according to the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), which has a legal defense group, who I have found willing to provide FREE ADVICE on such matters.

    I live in Palm Springs, where I fight ongoing battles to keep bikes IN OUR CITY!!!

    Desert Heat has it’s share of nay-sayers EVERY YEAR, as evidenced by the promoters not having it at all two years ago! Evey year, after the event, a host of request are received by the police department for crime statistics, hoping to find cause to ban the bikers again!

    I feat Palm Springs has too many people that are stuck in the 1950’s, when Hollywood stars and starlets came to the sleepy little village of Palm Springs, and only 10-12 at a time would drop enough cash in town to make it a viable city. Those days are gone, never to return. Fortunately, the attrition provided by age and time will address this over the coming years, though it may be 10 to 20 before the City’s mindset actually changes. However, I DO feel there will be enough attrition in the next 5-10 years to provide enough change that the nay-sayers will become the minority.

    LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES!

    Besides, it is NOT like we have 900 big-bore, open-pipe bikes rolling into town every day. It is ONE weekend per year, and generates hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue and taxes for our City!! I can certainly put up with a couple noisy bikes on two streets for a couple days! Not to mention, it USED to be held in the downtown Palm Canyon BUSINESS District. I.E., non-residential. Too often, only the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Our lawmakers need to oil ALL the wheels, not just the noisy ones.

    Tom Ferrari

    PRIDE RIDERS mc advocates the SAFE OPERATION of ALL MOTOR VEHICLES, and INDIVIDUAL accountability and responsiblity! – (Don’t punish us all for the misconduct of the few!)

  12. Hey guys, I am 18 years old and ride a Yamaha R6, which is a crotch rocket. To be honest it is a queit bike, and I see alot more Harleys that are louder. But this is not the issue at hand. Instead of punishing people who have loud bikes, WHICH DO SAVE LIFES, we should focus on the people reving them up to unessary levels. I have personally gotten pulled over in my mustang for doing this. The same should be at hand here with motorcycles. Loud bikes are not a disturbance. Its dumb people on the bikes that cause the disturbance. Its the same as if someone kills a person with a gun. Should they say that you cant have one because what one person did? No, its not constitutional. The same applys with loud pipes. So lets stop arguing and realise the issue at hand and try to find grounds to work with.

  13. i will continue to lobby my representatives to ticket loud motorcycles.
    you have not right to make noise. you can ride but not to make noise case closed.

  14. it doesn’t matter what kind of machine is making the noise, if it’s too loud and disturbs others then it’s wrong. how do you define too loud? well when it causes pain, sets off alarms, scares animals, children and old people, when it sounds like a P51 fighter plane taking off down the road….then it’s too loud. common sense, courtesy and respect for others as well as the law SHOULD be enough to keep noise levels down, unfortunately, form my perspective selfish motorcyclists break the law and continue to fuel this problem.

  15. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Sarah

    http://grillsblog.com

  16. We are fighting a similar law in Boston

    Please review and pass along to riders on your list who might be interested.

    Thanks – PC
    ===================
    News Release – for Immediate Release (June 30, 2009)
    For more info, contact
    Paul W. Cote, ClaimsCote@aol.com – 978-535-8222 (Days)
    Bill Gannon, billgannon2@hotmail.com
    Mike Longtin, mlongtin@comcast.net
    Vince Silvia, vsilvia@thesilvias.com – 987-852-3626 (cell)
    Larry Cahill, webmaster@bostonbiker.com

    Subject: Motorcyclist advocates to make noise – and sue City of Boston

    (Boston) A group of motorcycle advocates and activists are putting the final touches on a lawsuit they expect to file this week in Suffolk Superior Court, asking the Court to restrain the City of Boston from issuing $300 tickets to motorcyclists and declare a recently rushed through “noise” Ordinance invalid.

    Paul W. Cote of Amesbury, Bill Gannon of Quincy, Vince Silvia of Haverhill, Mike Longtin of N. Easton, and Larry Cahill of Medford, have joined together to rally riders and fight the City of Boston’s Docket No. 0658 Ordinance, passed by the Boston City Council on June 3, and signed by the Mayor June 9th, which reads,

    (a)1) No person shall park, use or operate a motorcycle, within the City of Boston, manufactured subsequent to December 31, 1982, that does not bear the required applicable Federal EPA exhaust label pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations Title 40, Volume 24, Part 205, Subparts D and Subpart E.

    2) All violations of subsection (a)(1) shall be punishable by a fine of three hundred dollars and no cents ($300.00).

    3) Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, or his or her designee, shall have the authority to enforce subsection (a) of this section.

    Section 2, – The provisions of this section shall be effective immediately upon passage.
    (see http://www.cityofboston.gov/cityclerk/hearing/search.asp?id=21975 – click for more info)

    Cote said the Ordinance was filed by Councillor LaMattina on May 6 and referred to the Committee on Government Operations. A public hearing was held May 26 and the Committee released the Ordinance on June 1 with an “ought to pass” recommendation. The full Council took up the matter June 3 and put it on the Mayor’s desk which he signed June 9th.

    “There was an obviously rush to keep this under the radar screen, – it is so flawed, abusive, and puts the safety of law enforcement in jeopardy, having to crawl under motorcycles looking for some stamp,” claims Cote.

    “The City of Boston, via their traffic enforcement division, has perfected procedures that rape the wallets of itÂ’s citizens and tourists alike, as well as hard-working commuters employed in the city.” said Bill Gannon. “They’re attempting to solve their financial crisis on the backs of law-abiding motorcyclists with $300 fines on legally inspected motorcycles, in conflict with a sufficient state statute.”

    Mike Longtin said, “an easy review of the referenced EPA standard shows its a ‘manufacturer’s standard,’ not a consumer standard, that contains an “acoustic assurance period” that the exhaust standard meets the decibel requirements, that is only required for 1 year or 3,750 miles.” So people are supposed to get rid of their motorcycles after a year or 3,750 miles? Someone didn’t think this through.”

    “Its nothing by Government sanctioned theft,” said Silvia. “I expect Boston Police to stand on their feet combating crime in the City, not get down on their knees or on their backs, looking for EPA labels on exhaust systems, this is crazy.”

    Several years ago Cahill, owner of the BostonBiker.com web site, encouraged riders to ‘boycott’ Newburyport businesses when its police issued over 300 noise citations to riders – who were later found to be in compliance, due to their flawed interpretation of state testing requirements and procedures.

    “A lot of law abiding citizens spend money and lost time from work just to prove themselves right and law enforcement wrong. This Boston Ordinance is wrong. The City should use the existing state laws and procedures, and the boycott worked.”

    “If this Ordinance doesn’t get declared invalid, I’ll be recommending riders save the dollars they’d be spending in Boston’s restaurants and other businesses to fight these tickets in a Court of law like we did in Newburyport.”

    Cote said an e-mail to the President of Boston’s Chamber of Commerce sent ten days ago has gone unanswered. “I told him this Ordinance has the potential of affecting its business members, but he hasn’t replied yet.”

    Gannon said the suit will challenge the City’s authority to sidestep the state laws, which carries a $35 or $50 fine, not $300. “People shouldn’t have to know what ordinance this city or town has or doesn’t have – they should be free to ride the Commonwealth’s roads knowing their bike is legal in every town or city after it has been inspected.”

    Collectively, the group of motorcycle activists and advocates don’t support offensively loud motor vehicles but claim at least over 95% of the more than 180,000 motorcycles inspected this year complies with existing state requirements.

    In a similar proposed Ordinance in New York City last year, local riders visited 6 or 7 shops and dealerships, looking for the EPA label on the exhaust, finding on 65% of the new motorcycles inspected the EPA label was not clearly visible or required dismantling equipment to find it.

    Riders interested in helping fight this Ordinance are encourage to contact Cote at ClaimsCote@aol.com.

  17. If you bikers didn’t change your legal
    exhausts to illegally LOUD ones in the first place, there wouldn’t be laws like this being passed. Try complying with the law for a change and stop insisting that you should be exempt to do what ever you want. You made your bed and now you will
    have to sleep in it.

  18. Hats off to all of you bikers who ride with exhaust that meets federal standards of 80 decibels.

    However, everyone here knows that the very first thing most of you do is rip off the stock exhaust for a louder one – 10X to 100X times the noise intensity, a lower noise frequency which easily penetrates homes, and these same illegal modifications (called tampering) make each loud motorcycle generate more air pollution than 80 automobiles.

    The noise is not just “a passing nuisance”. For many many people it has become an absolute nightmare. I easily have over 150 loud motorcycles blasting by my home each warm weekend day, easily heard over any activity in my house located over 200 ft. from the road. Everyday starting at 5am we have Harleys blasting through our neighborhoods.

    This noise has an impact on health, supported by many studies.

    There is no safety benefit from this noise, just do a little research on the Internet to see the many articles against this concept. The noise constitutes a safety problem for motorists.

    You would like to scrap the EPA labeling requirements because you claim that they are flawed. I think that your argument is flawed. What you have found are clear violations by businesses manufacturing both motorcycles and aftermarket exhausts systems. The federal regulations which require EPA labeling on all motorcycles and exhaust systems sold in the USA provide recourse to consumers like yourselves – a product recall since these products clearly don’t meet these long standing federal regulations.

    Why don’t you also please research the difficulty with enforcement with equipment such as decibel readers? There are several reasons why enforcement with decibel readers is very difficult, this was understood, and this is why the EPA label program makes sense and should be adopted widely. Manufactures will quickly respond with compliant products.

    The attitude of most bikers is well described by a nearby Harley dealership who advertises – Maybe you just want that awesome earth-quaking, window-rattling exhaust that sets off car alarms as you ride on by. Want to make men dive out of the way and women grab their children and head inside and lock the doors? We can help with that too!; 2 out of 18 advertised performance packages are described as street legal.

    According to the clean air act these types of modifications (tampering) are supposed to make business liable for up to $10k per day per motorcycle.

    People don’t just focus on motorcycles, the huge bass car stereo systems generate the same type of intrusive, disrespectful, and harmful noise. However the focus on motorcycles comes about simply because it is by far the largest problem in many areas.

    Why can’t you think about other people, not just yourselves?

  19. Why do we have anti bikers like “sick of illegal motorcycles posting on a biker blog?
    “Why can’t you think about other people, not just yourselves? ” And you post this on a biker forum, so just exactly who are you thinking about?

    We were minding our own business, when you chose to troll on the blog.I have stock exhaust, and you don’t want to be “bothered” in your house, but chose to “bother us ” in our “house”.

  20. The problem with the EPA sticker is simple. I can hollow out my EPA stamped muffler. That way my bike will be fantastically loud and meet the local noise ordinance.

  21. The loud pipes argument is absurd. If they save lives, all vehicles should be forced to have no mufflers. What riders don’t understand is that they are giving themselves PERMANENT severe hearing damage. Because of my stupidity in the 60’s, I can barely hear now. My ears ring constantly at around 85 db. How would you like that for the rest of your life?

  22. I cannot argue with you on the hearing damage argument. I also have hearing damage and permanant ringing in my ears. This condition is known as Tinitis. Too many rides and too much rock & roll with no hearing protection.

    If my ringing was at 85db I would go crazy. But both of my ears do ring all of the time. Thank god I have learned to ignore it.

    Norm

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