We haven’t published anything about AB 1824 because frankly, it’s not really news and we don’t care about farming pageviews with every bit of minutia. But since a vocal chunk of motorcyclists are up in arms in a typically uninformed fashion, we’re here to set the record straight for those who care about facts.
Here’s the deal: California’s AB 1824, which went into effect on January first, didn’t take away any “rights,” or even change what’s legally acceptable in terms of exhaust modifications. All it did—at least regarding motor vehicles—is change exhaust violations from so-called fix-it tickets to tickets that carry a mandatory fine.
Cue the shrieking and gnashing of teeth: our rights are being taken away, California sucks now, nitwit name-calling like the oh-so-clever and totally-not-worn-out-decades-ago “Moonbeam.” Motorcycle people heard from a social media “friend” who read three words of a meme posted online by someone who didn’t read the bill that The Man is targeting motorcyclists again; car people flipped their shit in much the same way. Someone who clearly doesn’t have a basic understanding of the matter at hand started a petition, incorrectly claiming that the new law will “punish law abiding citizens.” Crackerjack critiques like “California: where you can change your gender but not your muffler” began making the rounds.
Yawn. Puke. Whatever. Probably both.
Here’s the relevant language from AB 1824, which by the way, was signed by the governor last June:
(4) Existing law provides that whenever any person is arrested for certain offenses, including, among other things, an infraction involving vehicle equipment, the arresting officer is required to permit the arrested person to execute a notice, prepared by the officer in triplicate, containing a promise to correct the violation and to deliver proof of correction to the issuing agency, unless the arresting officer finds that a disqualifying condition exists.
Existing law requires every motor vehicle subject to registration to be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise and prohibits a muffler or exhaust system from being equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device. Existing law further prohibits the modification of an exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner that will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of the vehicle so that the vehicle exceeds existing noise limits.
This bill would include, among those conditions that are disqualifying, a violation of the above-described requirements related to mufflers and exhaust systems.
SEC. 4. Section 40610 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
40610. (a) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), if, after an arrest, accident investigation, or other law enforcement action, it appears that a violation has occurred involving a registration, license, all-terrain vehicle safety certificate, or mechanical requirement of this code, and none of the disqualifying conditions set forth in subdivision (b) exist and the investigating officer decides to take enforcement action, the officer shall prepare, in triplicate, and the violator shall sign, a written notice containing the violator’s promise to correct the alleged violation and to deliver proof of correction of the violation to the issuing agency.
(2) If any person is arrested for a violation of Section 4454, and none of the disqualifying conditions set forth in subdivision (b) exist, the arresting officer shall prepare, in triplicate, and the violator shall sign, a written notice containing the violator’s promise to correct the alleged violation and to deliver proof of correction of the violation to the issuing agency. In lieu of issuing a notice to correct violation pursuant to this section, the officer may issue a notice to appear, as specified in Section 40522.
(b) Pursuant to subdivision (a), a notice to correct violation shall be issued as provided in this section or a notice to appear shall be issued as provided in Section 40522, unless the officer finds any of the following:
(1) Evidence of fraud or persistent neglect.
(2) The violation presents an immediate safety hazard.
(3) The violator does not agree to, or cannot, promptly correct the violation.
(4) The violation cited is of subdivision (a) of Section 27150 or of subdivision (a) of Section 27151.
(c) If any of the conditions set forth in subdivision (b) exist, the procedures specified in this section or Section 40522 are inapplicable, and the officer may take other appropriate enforcement action.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (a), the notice to correct violation shall be on a form approved by the Judicial Council and, in addition to the owner’s or operator’s address and identifying information, shall contain an estimate of the reasonable time required for correction and proof of correction of the particular defect, not to exceed 30 days, or 90 days for the all-terrain vehicle safety certificate.
The CHP clarified all this murky mumbo jumbo in a press release on December 17th of last year:
Certain vehicle exhaust violations no longer correctable (AB 1824, Committee on Budget): A fine will become mandatory, not correctable, when loud motor vehicles and motorcycles are cited. Previously, a driver or motorcyclist who was cited for modified or excessively loud exhaust or muffler systems could correct the violation to avoid a fine.
The bill that actually “took our rights,” SB 435, passed in 2010, and applies to motorcycles manufactured after January 1st, 2013. Those of you who are keeping track will realize that 2013 was six years ago.
There are other sections of the vehicle code that govern exhaust and noise levels, but you’re gonna have to research further yourself if you’re interested—we’re probably going to be busy responding to pissed-off, poorly spelled attacks from snowflake libs who like to cherry-pick when and where things like personal responsibility apply to them. “Libs” in this case are Libertarians and other self-styled “defenders of liberty.”
CityBike’s perspective on such things has always been simple: you get caught, you pay the price, not bawl and blubber about “tyranny” and how much California sucks now. If you’re going to behave like an antisocial asshole or even just break the law (because sometimes it’s fun), do it out of the public eye like we do (most of the time) so your behavior doesn’t unnecessarily affect your fellow motorcyclists (or your fellow humans).
Yes, a nice exhaust note is pleasing to the ear of many a gearhead, but “loud” doesn’t necessarily equate to “nice,” and excessively loud exhausts are annoying not just to the large group of people that some motorcyclists myopically dumb down to “moto-hating cagers,” but to many riders as well. Repeating the stupid slogan “loud pipes save lives” ad nauseam doesn’t make it true, and “let those who ride decide” is roughly as effective and intelligent as claiming helmets hurt more than they help.
Further, real riders know that the true joys of hooning—or just cruising—are largely derived from riding itself, not from being a self-important, loud-mouthed asshole, and that’s what riding with an excessively loud pipe makes you.
It’s also worth noting that the time to complain about this sort of legislation is before these laws pass—in this case, years ago. This is why we keep harping on the necessity of education and involvement, of joining and supporting organizations like the AMA, even if their various positions don’t jive perfectly with your own.