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California Cracks Down on Motorcycle Exhaust

>> Ashley Benson

January 9, 2013 - San Diego, CA

Every new year brings new laws. Most go unnoticed while other spark up a bit on controversy. Ahem we're looking at you Illinois Wheelie Law. And California is no exception. Starting the first of this year, police in California officially have the authority to ticket motorcyclists who ride motorcycles with non-compliant exhaust systems under SB435, the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act.

Signed in 2010, this new motorcycle exhaust law isn't the first to hit the California law books. SB435 is a law meant to support already existing motorcycle exhaust restrictions by allowing police to ticket motorcycles that are parked, ridden or used for any other matter that have been manufactured after January 1, 2013 and have an aftermarket exhaust system or any motorcycle that has a motorcycle exhaust system manufactured after January 1, 2013 that does not display a label directly on the exhaust system showing that it adheres to previously instated noise emission standards.

In other words, if you buy a new motorcycle this year that was made after the first of this year and you switch out the exhaust system, you have to buy one that specifically states and displays that it meets the noise emission requirements or you could receive a ticket from a police officer no matter whether you are riding or parked. Also, if you have a motorcycle manufactured before the first of this year and you upgrade your motorcycle exhaust system to one that was manufactured after the first of this year, it must also show that it is compliant with the noise emission laws.

Wondering how much these tickets will pop you? Get caught with an illegal motorcycle exhaust system a first time and be prepared to give the state of California $50 to $100, but it can be dropped if you show the court adequate proof that you installed a legal exhaust system. The second ticket goes up to no less than $100 but no more than $250 but cannot be dismissed even if the pipes are replaced.

But there are some holes in this law. For instance, I'm not 100% sure whether or not the motorcyclists must be pulled over for a separate infraction such as failing to signal for a turn or running a stop sign before the motorcyclists can be ticketed for an illegal exhaust system. The bill itself merely states, "This bill would make it a crime for a person to park, use, or operate a motorcycle, registered in the state, that [...] does not have the above..."

Also, there's little stopping a motorcyclist who has been cited from switching the illegal motorcycle exhaust system out for a legal one, showing the court proof to have the infraction dropped, and then switching it back to the illegal exhaust.

Effective or not, the law shows that the motorcycle noise emission debate is still raging. Whether you stand on the "loud pipes save lives" side of the argument or on the side that believes some bikers abuse the power, is this law actually going to make a difference or affect the average rider?

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