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New Seattle noise ordinance will ticket loud vehicles $126

There’s a fine line between cars that drive, and cars that announce themselves while driving. The latter tends to annoy people. That’s why the Seattle City Council recently passed an amendment to the noise ordinance that allows officers to issue a ticket if they can hear an excessively loud exhaust from 75 feet away.

The Seattle Times reports that excessively loud noise would be anything upwards of 95 decibels (about as loud as a lawnmower), and exceeding it would land you a $136 ticket. What’s concerning is the level of subjectivity involved in issuing such tickets.

“How does a cop know he’s 75 feet away?” wondered KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “So at 74 feet can he hear, and then he steps back one foot, and is like, ‘Can’t hear them,’ and then steps forward, ‘Yeah, can hear them.'”

“People can claim that the officer was not 75 feet away. So you’d be able to fight this thing in court if you wanted to fight it.”

RELATED: The state’s dilemma of safety versus noise

Complaints of these kinds are common from residents at Alki Beach, where numerous loud cars and motorcycles cruise along just a few feet away from homes and businesses with outdoor seating. If you’re standing on the beach with a seashell up to your ear when one of these vehicles drove by, you probably wouldn’t hear the ocean.

Those with suped-up cars and motorcycles will have to adjust before the city tells them to quiet down. The new amendment has yet to be signed into law by Mayor Jenny Durkan, and isn’t otherwise expected to be in place until midsummer, following a period of public education.

The Seattle noise ordinance and motorcycles

“I didn’t notice any loud cars the last time I was in Alki,” said KIRO Radio’s Zak Burns. “But the motorcycles just disrupt everything. Do you think we’re in awe of you because you’re riding a motorcycle? No one is impressed, and you’re just annoying everybody.”

Curley mentioned the he used to own a bike, and would try to alert people whenever he was going to start it.

“I would say to people: This is going to be pretty loud when it starts, just to let you know. I’m not a jerk; just going to start my bike.”

“Should that be part of this ordinance?” Zak said. “You can have loud cars, as you long as you alert everybody that you’re going to bring along a loud car.”

“Well the city council would have you apologize every two blocks, or at least every 75 feet,” Curley said.

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