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Seattle police can legally fine you $136 if they hear your stock exhaust

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Seattle Police are actively enforcing an amendment to a city sound ordinance that gives them the power to fine practically anyone driving with a $136 fine.

If you drive a gas-powered car in Seattle, Washington, consider yourself already within the guidelines of breaking the law. According to Seattle Police from their tweet earlier today (Aug 6, 2018) if police can “hear your vehicle 75 feet away” they can fine you $136, and that’s before all those nasty court fees are tacked on. Check out the tweet for yourself below.

One thing to make clear in this entire fiasco of an amendment is that police are our friend, they’re not out to get us, and in reality, this is inadvertently our fault by electing a council member who we thought would work in the best interest of its constituents, but instead, will probably end up hurting their own constituents with unnecessary fines.

As the amendment stands as mentioned in their tweet above, Seattle PD can cite any car they hear within 75 feet. 75 feet sounds far, but in reality, is much closer than you think. Youtuber Moto Man Dan disproved this amendment almost immediately by revving his stock Honda Element exactly 75 feet from his mic. And guess what, you can totally hear it. His stock car, and yours is in violation of city ordinance. Check out that video below. I’ve already fast-forwarded it to the most important bit.

Anyways, according to the ordinance, as it stands, noisy is defined as

No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase,
the noise emitted by the engine of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed
on the vehicle, and it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle not equipped as required
by Sections 11.84.060 and 11.84.080 or which has been amplified as prohibited by this section so that the
vehicleís exhaust noise exceeds ninety-five (95) decibels as measured by the Society of Automotive Engineers
(SAE) test procedure J1169.

Although SAW J1169 has changed a couple of times since it was put in place in the 1980s, its procedure has changed very little.

As per SEMA, SAE J1169 states that

Under the SAE standard, a sound meter is placed 20
inches from the exhaust outlet at a 45-degree angle and the engine is
revved to three quarters of maximum rated horsepower. The highest
decibel reading is then recorded.

This is in direct contradiction with this amendment. How can police say your vehicle is too loud from 75 feet when the standard is really within 20 inches if we’re citing SAE J1169?

More than likely the usual suspects will get cited, that includes anyone who has a modified vehicle or honestly, just sticks out of the crowd.

If you get a citation and want to fight it, as is your right, keep in mind that the original city ordinance uses SAE J1169 as the standard which defines what is a “loud exhaust.”

If a police officer doesn’t stand with a decibel meter 20 inches from your exhaust at a 45-degree angle to get a reading, they haven’t lived up to the original ordinance before the amendment and their ruling is null.

I applaud the city council for working to please its constituents by following up on what they deemed was most important, but clearly, how they cite cars with “loud exhausts” needs to be worked on.

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