New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has signed the SLEEP Act into law in New York State. That, if you’re wondering, stands for “Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution.” This law increases penalties for illegally modified mufflers on all vehicles, not just motorcycles.

Fines, which used to be $250 per violation, increase to $1000 under the new law. State inspection stations will be required to verify motorcycles’ exhausts are legal.

Specifically, an excerpt from the bill itself states it is now “illegal to sell, offer for sale, or install a cut-out, bypass or similar device for the muffler or exhaust system of a motor vehicle or motorcycle.” Any shops or inspection stations that are found to be in “willful violation” of this law three times within eighteen months will lose their inspection and/or operating certification.

Supporters of this legislation point to improvements on noisy city streets and busy roads. They say the noise is a quality of life and public safety issue.

But What Does The Law Say?

In plain language, the law prohibits installing or modifying your own or anyone else’s vehicle exhaust. The exhaust, if aftermarket, may not make more noise than the original. Motorcycles manufactured before 1979 are exempt. Further, no shops in the state may sell an exhaust system that makes a vehicle louder than it was when stock.

The law notes no specific decibel levels, but it does require police vehicles to be equipped with a “decibel reader.” Do the police know how to use those readers? Does a smartphone app count? Will all police cars carry a book listing every possible make, model and decibel level?

Also, what kind of teeth will the new law have? It mentions inspection stations and individuals. We all know folks dedicated to their “loud pipes” who will remove them for inspection and then reinstall. The inspectors have no power there.

Ultimately, like any law, it is up to the police themselves to enforce or ignore. When so many, cops included, adhere to the “loud pipes save lives” mantra, does anyone expect this to make any kind of difference? Time may tell!

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