California stock muffler bill signed into law by Schwarzenegger

California Senate Bill SB435 signed into law by California governor, affects all motorcycles and aftermarket exhausts manufactured for these motorcycles after Jan 1, 2013

motorcycle exhaust

California Senate Bill SB435, also known as the “Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act”, has been signed into law by California governer Arnold Schwarzenegger. This law now gives police officers the right to cite motorcyclists riding in California for non-stock exhaust system violations under the California Vehicle Code. The new law makes use of a seldom-enforced 27-year-old federal regulation that prohibits the replacement of the stock exhaust with any unit not officially approved by the EPA. Ever since 1983, every stock motorcycle system is required to have the EPA approval and federal noise regulation wording stamped somewhere on its outer surface that certifies compliance.

Under this new law, motorcyclists pulled over for other infractions can also be cited for having a non-stock exhaust system (or an illegally modified stock exhaust) on their bike. The first violation could result in a fine of $50-$100 if the exhaust is not returned to stock; subsequent violations will results in fines of $100-$250. Part of the new law states that any motorcycle exceeding the federal 80dB sound limit will also be in violation; however, police have no standardized tool nor procedure for actually measuring sound levels in the field, and enforcement will most likely be based upon whether the system has the EPA stamp readily visible (granted, if the exhaust is abnormally loud, most jurisdictions will back the officer’s opinion that the exhaust noise is excessive, which can fall under the same federal statute). The law technically only affects 2013 and later model motorcycles and aftermarket parts manufactured for those motorcycles.

"The noise pollution caused by illegally modified motorcycle exhaust systems is a major quality of life issue across the state," SB 435's author, Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica), said in a news release issued Monday. "Basic common sense and decency dictates that when a motorcycle drives by and sets off every car alarm on the street, that is too loud.” The SB 435 that was signed into law is actually a watered-down version of the original bill that Pavley had sought to get passed; that bill intended to require bi-annual smog checks for motorcycles, despite the fact that there is no way for smog check stations across California to run a motorcycle on the dyno drum used for car tests. That bill was quickly killed off before it reached the California Senate floor.

The California law is similar to an ordinance passed by the city of Denver three years ago that requires all motorcycles to have mufflers with the EPA stamp “plainly visible”. The New York City Council tried to pass a similar ordinance back in December of ’08, but it was quickly “tabled for further review” after objections were voiced from numerous fronts.