Noise Abatement Bills Worth Supporting

Off-road vehicle noise can be a real problem, here in rural Thurston County. Two bills, one in the state Senate and the other in the state House, are well worth supporting. Griffin residents may express support by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. You may also email your support of these bills by visiting the web site of the Washington State Legislature.

To address the need for peace and quiet in homes in residential neighborhoods, free from unnecessary engine noise from Off Road Vehicles (ORVs), this legislation sets reasonable limits on noise from recreational ORV operation in residential neighborhoods, sets fines, and allows costs and fees to be reimbursed to a party who has to sue to enforce the law.

Sets Reasonable Limits

  • It reduces allowable tailpipe noise from 105 decibels to 96 decibels, consistent with the national standard and industry recommendations.
  • It makes it a violation of the motor vehicle code (RCW 46.09) and the Noise Control Act (RCW 70.107) to cause noise from an ORV in a residential neighborhood that can be heard inside or immediately adjacent to a residence.

This new state law provision is reasonable because it focuses on keeping noise out of homes. It supplements the current decibel noise limits for ORVs in state regulation and is easier and less costly to enforce. It also does not unnecessarily restrict ORV use as long as the ORV is operated so that noise cannot be heard in and around the home. This legislation does not change any of the current exemptions set in state regulation (173-60-050).

  • It establishes reasonable lengths of time where ORV noise can exceed decibel standards set in current state regulation for express purposes, such as loading and unloading the ORV for transport.

Sets Fines

  • It establishes penalties for violations ranging from $100 for the first violation and increasing penalties for subsequent violations, up to a maximum of $800.

Allows Costs and Fees

  • It allows attorneys fees and costs to the prevailing party who brings an action to enforce the noise standards.

This legislation does not prevent local governments from taking actions under local ordinances in addition to those authorized by this legislation.

The increasing use of ORVs in residential neighborhoods, especially rural ones, is disrupting the peace and quiet of communities and negatively impacting the health of residents. This legislation allows simple, common sense tools to be available to neighbors so that peace and quiet can continue to be available in residential areas.

These bills are SB 5544 and HB 1434. Click on the links, in the bill numbers, for more details regarding each.

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