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RI-E. Greenwich final ordinance [noise]

November 10, 2009

E. Greenwich final ordinance

The final hearing on the motorcycle EPA label law that started in the town of East Greenwich, RI as an emergency motorcycle noise abatement ordinance last July, was held November 9, 2009.  The original intent of this ordinance was to effectively ban or fine any motorcycle in town that did not have an original equipment EPA certification label on both the frame and exhaust system of the bike.  This was in response to many, many noise complaints made to members of the town council, and the council using a broad brush approach to control a small minority of irresponsible bikers.  The original ordinance is attached as #1.

The RIMA legislative task force went into immediate action by contacting the town council members to express our opposition to this highly discriminatory, biased bill against all motorcycles.  RIMA reps have attended every town council meeting since, and has testified at these hearings as well as meeting to discuss alternatives.  The “final” version was heard at the October 26th council meeting, at which RIMA again offered testimony to the short comings of the proposed law and made a push to simplify the ordinance and eliminate the so called enhanced penalties.  After the October 26th meeting, RIMA members were also urged to phone and email the council people and continue the push to eliminate the enhanced penalties for after market exhaust.  Our main argument aimed to shift the responsibility of excessive noise off the equipment and onto the irresponsible behavior of the individual operating the motorcycle.  As we witnessed on the evening of November 9, the message was heard loud and clear as each council member talked about the behavior of the operator vs. the equipment.  Also each town councilman made note of the emails and phone calls received.  This incredible effort by the RIMA legislative Task Force and the membership at large convinced the East Greenwich Town Council to unanimously vote against any EPA Label requirements or original equipment restrictions and for an amended “final” version that eliminates the enhanced penalty portion of the ordinance.  While the 2nd and 3rd offense fines have been raised, what is now in effect is a motor vehicle noise ordinance that addresses all motor vehicles, not only motorcycles,.  It addresses all noise from these vehicles, including loud stereos that can be heard from 200 ft, not just motorcycle exhaust.  Also eliminated is the provision in the 2nd and 3rd offense that would have led to impounding the vehicle.

Congratulations to the RI Motorcycle Association Legislative Task Force and a sincere thanks to the members that contacted the East Greenwich Town Council.  Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Below is the final version (with deletions) that was approved by the Town of East Greenwich.  Take note, the town council also made it quite clear that should noise (motorcycles in particular) still be an issue in spite of this ordinance, then additional measures will again be implemented.  So a word to the wise….

§ 152-14 Excessive Vehicular Noise.

Unnecessary, excessive, or offensive vehicular noise: Any sound or noise emanating from any vehicle(s) in motion, parked, or standing on any streets, land parcels, or properties, public or private, within the Town of East Greenwich, plainly audible to a person of reasonably sensitive hearing at a distance of two hundred (200) feet from its source, shall be deemed a prima facie violation of this article.

For the purposes of this section, “plainly audible” means any sound which clearly can be heard, by unimpaired auditory senses based on a direct line of sight of 200 feet or more, from the source of the sound and crosses a property boundary line or boundary between two dwelling units, however, words or phrases need not be discernible and said sound shall include base reverberation.

Any operator of any vehicle violating the provisions of this chapter shall be fined according to the following:

First offense: One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) and where applicable, enhanced penalties as specified.

Second Offense: Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00)Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) and where applicable, enhanced penalties as specified.

Third Offense:  Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) and where applicable, enhanced penalties as specified.

Enhanced Penalties: Under circumstances when an issuing officer(s) have clear evidence to determine that the excessive noise emanating from the offending vehicle is the result of any modification, alteration, or substitution of the original equipment manufactures (OEM) components, the following enhanced penalties shall apply:

First Offense: an additional One Hundred Dollars ($100.00)

Second Offense: an additional One Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($150.00) and vehicle impounded and released for tow only with all tow related expenses paid by the operator or person seeking vehicle release.

Third Offense: an additional Two Hundred and Dollars ($200.00) and vehicle impounded and released for tow only with all tow related expenses paid by the operator or person prior obtaining vehicle release.

For first offense violators, the offending vehicle may be corrected, and displayed at Police headquarters, to any sworn member of the East Greenwich Police Department. Upon satisfactory inspection of said correction the enhanced penalty will be waived however future violations, by the operator cited, will be considered a second or subsequent offense and subject to the appropriate fine and penalty as specified herein.

Any and all Emergency Vehicles engaged in official business requiring audible warning or public address shall be exempt from any provision of this ordinance.

Section 2. This ordinance amendment shall take effect and be made part of the Code of Ordinances of the Town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island upon its passage.

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