AG Issues Opinion: Excessive Vehicle Noise Cannot Be A Primary Offense

AG Issues Opinion: Excessive Vehicle Noise Cannot Be A Primary Offense

Modified mufflers are causing distress among county residents

Modified mufflers are causing distress among county residents During Supervisor Boddye’s March 11 town hall on excessive vehicle noise, Virginia Senator Scott A. Surovell requested an opinion from the Attorney General on whether or not new legislation prohibited police from treating such noise as a primary offense. On April 30, the Office of the Attorney General issued an informal opinion in response (click here to view the full informal opinion). Two sections worth highlighting are included below:

“During the 2020 Special Session I, the General Assembly amended several provisions relating to various traffic offenses. The several sections that deal with state regulation of loud exhaust systems now include a provision stating: ‘No law-enforcement officer shall stop a motor vehicle for a violation of this section. No evidence discovered or obtained as the result of a stop in violation of this subsection, including evidence discovered or obtained with the operator’s consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding.'”

“The governing body of any county, city, or town which is located within the Northern Virginia Planning District may provide by ordinance that no person shall operate and no owner shall permit the operation of, either on a highway or on public or private property within 500 feet of any residential district, any motorcycle, moped, all-terrain vehicle…electric power-assisted bicycle, motorcycle-like device commonly known as a trail-bike or mini-bike, off-road motorcycle, or motorized cart commonly known as a go-cart unless it is equipped with an exhaust system of a type installed as standard equipment, or comparable to that designed for use on that particular vehicle or device as standard factory equipment, in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive noise.”

The informal opinion concludes:

“…the portions of Fairfax County Code § 82-6-27 and Prince William County Code § 13-102, with the exception of those certain vehicles provided for in §46.2-1051, that conflict with the provisions of S.B. 5029 and H.B. 5058 are unenforceable by local law enforcement.”

In summary, according to the Office of the Attorney General, that the Prince William County ordinance that specifically addresses loud exhausts is in conflict with State code. Therefore, our police are not be able to enforce the ordinance except with the few vehicle types listed above.

Prince William County police will continue to enforce traffic violations such as speeding, running of lights and stop signs and vehicle maintenance issues, which are frequently associated with loud vehicles. Please report these violations to the non-emergency number at 703-792-6500. Supervisor Boddye will continue to advocate for state-level change, and has begun discussing the issue with several of his Board colleagues. Residents should reach out to State representatives, asking them to support making modified mufflers a violation of state vehicle inspections and to provide local police with tools to enforce excessive vehicle noise.

View the March 11 Vehicle Noise Town Hall