Lawmakers take first step in rolling back California exhaust law change

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Two lawmakers have made an early move to roll back changes to the California exhaust law. | Adobe Stock photo
California legislation on 30-days to repair loud exhaust awaits governor's signature | Adobe Stock photo

Lawmakers took the first step on February 5 to roll back changes to a California exhaust law that requires officers to issue a fine to offenders. California Assembly Bill 390 would an eliminate an exception signed into law last year that forces law enforcement to issue a fine if an exhaust system is louder than 95 decibels.

AB 390 was introduced by Democrat Assembly members Jim Frazier and Timothy Grayson. They serve on the Transportation Committee, with Frazier as chair. They also are members of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, which is supported by the Special Equipment Market Association, aka SEMA.

Should AB 390 pass, law enforcement would regain the ability to issue a so-called “fix-it” ticket — meaning the offending party has 30 days to fix the issue at hand — instead of paying an immediate fine.

The measure awaits committee assignment. California legislation must wait 30 days before being considered by the Legislature.

The California exhaust law has been a source of concern for the automotive industry since then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill. Enthusiasts were worried they would be regularly fined for driving vehicles with an aftermarket exhaust system.

Should AB 390 fail, a SEMA legal representative said motorists slapped with a ticket still have option.

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“You still have due process under the law in California to demonstrate you’re in compliance with the law using an objective test,” said Christian Robinson, who heads SEMA’s political action committee.

Motorists accused of violating the noise law can get a certificate of compliance from the SEMA-sponsored California Bureau of Automotive Repair that shows the exhaust is not louder than 95 decibels and use it to fight the fine in court. The exhaust test costs $108.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Roosters and chopped motorcycles are absolutely aware they’re breaking noise laws. It’s a sign of manhood to these people. Why give them a BS fix-it ticket when they already know they’re breaking laws and screwing with people’s lives? Vehicles not within refs should be stopped and towed. I drive a Modified Mustang 5.0 but I made sure it wouldn’t wake my neighbors. It’s a different era, noise jerks.

    • Roosters, I’m not so sure about, but the rest of your comment is accurate. But why allow them to pay the fine and keep the exhaust? Make them fix it and fine them, otherwise you’re basically just charging the offenders and allowing them to continue breaking the law. It would be like charging people an extra 100 dollars each year they don’t pass smog. I’d gladly pay $100 dollars a year to be able to modify my engine however I want!

      • Just another way to extract money from the public so lawmakers and government support their bloated bureaucratic spending. Maybe they should concentrate on preventing and suppressing wildfires and mudslides. California needs to be excommunicated or made an unincorporated territory like Puerto Rico.

  2. If it was noise that anyone was concerned about they would ticket those individuals riding their Harleys without mufflers! Excessive noise is noise regardless of where it’s coming from, Harley’s or Honda’s! My $2K exhaust system isn’t excessive, but it’s a modification that might cause me to get a violation judging the laws the Liberals are pushing to make more revenue!

    • When are you guys in California going to stop giving up your rights and tell those Liberals, law makers that this is America and we don’t give a hoot about their line of B.S.

  3. So if you get a fine and then go to court proving that the citation was wrong, you should be able to sue the State or Officer for the cost of the test.

  4. How much cash is wanted at auction? The whole amount, or is financing available?
    If financed, what % has to be the down payment?
    I would like to know this information before getting into the process of buying.

  5. The offending cars should be taken off the street. These imports that sound as if they have an expansion chamber are serious offenders. They’re enough to wake the dead! Hate to say it, there are some bikes that could tone it down, too. It is noise pollution no matter how you put it and should be eliminated, not just fined and allowed to continue

  6. SEMA acronym is for Specialty Equipment MARKET Association. The difference may seem small, but the difference in meaning is pretty huge.🙂

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