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AMA on New California Exhaust Law

Thursday, September 30, 2010
American Motorcyclist Association
A new California law requires street motorcycles registered in the state and built on or after Jan. 1, 2013, to have an exhaust system label certifying the motorcycles meet federal sound limits, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

On Sept. 28, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 435, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavey (D-Agoura Hills). While motorcycle manufacturers have been complying with the federal law since it was effective in 1983, the new law now makes it a state crime to operate any motorcycle registered in the state that was built on or after Jan. 1, 2013, that doesn't have a federal Environmental Protection Agency exhaust system sound emissions label.

In addition, the law requires aftermarket exhaust systems made on or after Jan. 1, 2013, to display the EPA sound emissions label, and therefore applies to individuals who seek to replace the exhaust system on affected streetbikes.

To view the legislation, see http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_435_bill_20100928_chaptered.html.

Thousands of motorcyclists utilized the AMA website at AmericanMotorcyclist.com first to oppose the bill, and then to urge Schwarzenegger to reject it.

AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris expressed major concerns about the new law.

"Many EPA labels are very difficult to locate on motorcycles," Haris said. "This law could lead to a flurry of tickets for motorcyclists who have legal exhaust systems with EPA labels on their machines that can't be easily seen. It's unreasonable to expect a law enforcement officer to easily locate an EPA label, and it's simply unfair to expect a motorcycle owner to partially dismantle an exhaust system along the roadside to prove the label exists."

Violators face fines of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $250 for subsequent offenses. Judges have the discretion to dismiss the fine for first-time offenders if the violation is corrected.

Also, a violation is considered a secondary offense, meaning a police officer can't stop a motorcyclist solely because the officer believes the motorcyclist is breaking the sound emissions label law.

"Requiring that a motorcycle display a readily visible EPA label isn't the appropriate way to address concerns about excessive motorcycle sound, which the AMA has pointed out repeatedly," Haris said. "The only objective way to determine whether a motorcycle complies with sound laws is for properly trained personnel to conduct sound level tests using calibrated meters and an agreed-upon testing procedure."

In 1972, Congress passed the federal Noise Control Act, which required the EPA to set sound standards for a number of products. It took several years, but the EPA eventually wrote rules affecting all new motorcycles sold in the U.S. beginning in 1983.

Those regulations, which still stand today, required that all street-legal motorcycles be limited to 83 decibels at that time, with a stricter, 80-decibel limit imposed beginning in 1986.

The AMA has long maintained a position of strong opposition to excessive motorcycle sound. In September 2009, the AMA developed model legislation for use by cities and states seeking a simple, consistent and economical way to deal with sound complaints related to on-highway motorcycles within the larger context of excessive sound from all sources.

The model legislation offers an objective method to evaluate motorcycle sound based on the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) J2825 standard, "Measurement of Exhaust Sound Pressure Levels of Stationary On-Highway Motorcycles."
For more information, click here: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/legisltn/Model_On_Highway_Sound_Ordinance.pdf.

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bassgoat1979   August 10, 2012 03:28 PM
Funny, old arnold rides and got back out into because the driver didn't see or hear him. Hopfully it will happen agian to him for his action. Dosen't CA have enough problems to solve than that? If you look at the amount of the fines and I'm sure cost to certify the bike you can see clearly why the law was passed. Greed is abundant!!!
Robin M -mr  October 8, 2010 04:53 PM
Californication again Washington state will follow cuz they hug the same tree. Schwarzenegger ran on a republican ticket, another lie from a nazi. They will put more people out of business and it will be govt sanctioned with govt workers checking the stamps or labels. Just like helmut and seatbelt laws your freedoms are taken away one by one while you sit back and do nothing about it.
cp -n/a  October 2, 2010 07:34 PM
doesn't "swarzi" own a hog....the dick weed! there's a few hundred more company's that will be going out of business soon! good work gov!
Rion -another bad idea.  October 2, 2010 04:52 PM
I'm just wondering, how are the Hells Angels going to react to this? Looks like more older bikes on the road then ever before.
Zippy -lots of jobs gone  September 30, 2010 04:55 PM
This is gonna cost Cali a lot of jobs. HD controls %60, almost 2/3s of the big bike market. These are the guys that buy pipes. They will buy from out of state, or not buy new bikes.

Just what we needed, more laws.
Smokey Strodtman -Another law we don't need  September 30, 2010 03:16 PM
I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said "The best government is the least government". We already have laws on the books about excessive noise and that's all we need. I'm not defending riders who go through neighborhoods at 2am shooting fire out of their pipes, that irritates me, too. My Vulcan has an aftermarket exhaust and I always short-shift it in populated areas and have never had a complaint or ticket. I say enforce the laws we have instead of creating new oness.
Rob -Bah...  September 30, 2010 11:11 AM
... we've had euro3 and now euro4 emissions and noise control rules now here in Europe so it doesn't really surprise me. Basically you've got to have the engraving on the exhaust itself (it's really easy to spot) and carry an additional paper with the serial number of the exhaust component with you. If there are any doubts the police officer will simply make a measurement on-site using a db-meter. Done. But I can understand that going from no law to that doesn't make anyone happy.
DingerJunkie -Unintended spin-off activity...  September 30, 2010 10:51 AM
Now I see a new market arising...fake EPA stamps, similar to re-tagging an engine block with a false number. How is a police officer going to prove that the "stamped exaust" was really approved and stamped legally or illegally? Will an aftermarket company be held liable if some user "stamps" their exhaust post-purchase?

Let's assume nobody goes down that road. Will an aftermarket company be held liable if a "closed-course-only" exhaust gets modified after sale by a consumer? How about modifications of EPA-legal stock cans? I know plenty of people who have completed "mufflerectomies" on their exhaust systems...where will the burden of proof fall regarding whether a system is internally stock or not?