I don’t know about you all, but I get the most adrenaline from driving down an open road, rolling down the windows, and cranking up the volume on my favorite playlists. Playing music in our car has been a delightful hobby for many of us. It gives a feeling of freedom and allows us to express ourselves. It’s our soundtrack, our escape, our way to make even the most boring commutes into something unique.
However, this act of celebrating by blasting music in your car is not without its own risks. Many people don’t know it, but yes, playing music too loudly in your car can not only result in noise complaints from angry neighbors but also result in a ticket for disrupting the peace. If you receive an unfair ticket for playing music too loud, or you were involved in a distracted driving accident, please consult with an Edmonds car accident lawyer.
Understanding Washington’s Noise Ordinances
It’s important to stay informed of Washington’s noise ordinances because these regulations define the limits of how loud you can play music in your car or when and where you can do so.
Noise ordinances are laws that stipulate the allowable sound thresholds in different environments, such as public places and residential zones. Some vehicle noise sources include loud car stereos, modified exhaust systems, squeaky tires and honking. Where this nuisance noise disturbs the peace of residents or interferes with the quiet enjoyment of their homes, residents may file complaints.
One should also remember that noise ordanances may differ from one city to another in Washington state. The state may have overall guidelines, but each municipality can develop its own laws designed to meet the needs of its residents. This implies that even if something is legal in a particular city, it can attract a ticket in another. As such, drivers should know how their area’s noise ordinances and then adjust their car audio habits.
Washington state law has set maximum acceptable decibels to determine acceptable noise levels and states that “No person shall operate any motor vehicle or any combination of such vehicles upon any public highway under any conditions of grade, load, acceleration or deceleration in such a manner as to exceed the maximum permissible sound levels for the category of vehicle in Table I, as measured at a distance of 50 feet”. These limits serve as a yardstick for noise enforcement. Officers can gauge from the limits whether a music volume is within tolerable limits.
What Are the Consequences of Violating Noise Ordinances?
Violating noise ordinances in Washington can have many consequences and it’s good to be aware of them in case you find yourself in a sticky situation with law enforcement.
- Penalties and Fines: The amount of the fine depends on the level of violation and the ordinances prevailing in your area. For example, being too loud with music in a residential area or very late at night may be subject to serious fines. These are fines that could grow over and over again, especially when it isn’t a first-time offense.
- The Role of Law Enforcement: The officer may pull you over for a noise complaint or when observing a violation or a citation may be issued. The level of policing can depend on the circumstances and local laws. Failure to act on its citation or warnings can lead to more serious sanctions.
- Impact on Driving Record: Some violations may accrue points to your driving record depending on the severity of the infraction and local laws. Accruing points on your license may lead to license suspension or traffic school which can be time-consuming and costly.
- Impact on Insurance Rates: Several insurance carriers view traffic violations, including noise ordinance violations, as sign of dangerous driving habits. Therefore, your insurance rates may increase substantially if you continuously offend the noise laws while driving.
What Can Get You a Ticket in Washington?
There are various ways through which one can get a noise ordinance ticket in Washington. One main issue is the public order offense, which entails being loud enough to distract the community’s peace. Public nuisances like loud noise or public disturbance can cause legal action. In specific instances, you can be ticketed for playing loud music late at night when neighbors are trying to rest, creating an excessive noise level, especially, in residential areas where people expect a certain level of silence, and causing noise complaints by neighbors, other drivers, or residents. When these tickets are issued, law enforcement takes into account the volume of the noise, the time of the day, the location, and the impact on the surrounding community. It is important for drivers to be aware of their effect on the tranquility of their environment and refrain from such tickets and penalties for enjoying music in the car.
What to Do If You Receive a Noise Violation Ticket
If you receive a noise violation ticket in Washington, there are some steps you should take to make sure your driving record and insurance rates aren’t impacted. If you get pulled over, do the following:
- Pull Over Safely: Pull your car on a safe spot if you are stopped for making noise.
- Be respectful and cooperative: Do not panic; be courteous, and comply with the law enforcement officer.
- Listen and ask questions: Note why the citation is included and politely request for elaboration if you need to understand it.
- Accept the ticket: However, once issued with the ticket, you should take and admit, but do not plead guilty nor argument on the spot.
- Understand the violation: Review the ticket to know the essence of the violation and the particular ordinance you are charged with.
- Gather evidence: Collect any evidence (witness statement, photographs or any other evidence that can support your case).
- Consult an attorney: Talk to a lawyer if you think the ticket is undeserved or if you plan to challenge it in court.
- Check your driving record/insurance rates: Check periodically for the violation to have been correctly captured.
The pleasure one gets by listening to favorite songs in the car with the wind in your hair and the road before you is a valued moment for many. However, one should keep in mind that in the state of Washington playing music too loud in the car is punished more than just a temporary pleasure. Enjoying your music comes at various noise ordinance levels from one city to another, possible fines/penalties and the risk of affecting your driving record and insurance rates. Drivers should be more mindful of others, especially fellow citizens they find in their surrounding to avoid the unwanted consequence of being slapped with a noise violation ticket.