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HPD's war on noise is alive and well


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POSTED: Monday, March 16, 2009

Question: I remember when the city passed a "noise ordinance," due mostly to lobbying by Joan Hayes and Citizens Against Noise. It now appears that that ordinance has been quietly dissolved, gutted, whatever. Not only do many cars now have what we used to call "Hollywood" mufflers, but motorcycles seem to, universally, carry NO mufflers at all! Does that ordinance still exist, or does the Honolulu Police Department, for some reason, ignore it?

Answer: We've done several columns about noisy vehicles, mufflers, mo-peds, ambulances—basically anything that goes screeching through the night.

The last time we addressed this with figures was in 2004, when the Honolulu Police Department provided us with statistics showing officers did issue a number of citations for noisy vehicles. (See "Kokua Line," Aug. 31, 2004).

At that time, HPD pointed out there are several state and city laws that deal with noisy vehicles, including Hawaii Revised Statutes 291-22 (dealing with excessive noise/modified muffler on motor scooters), HRS 291-24 (excessive noise/modified muffler on motorcycles), HRS 291-24.5 (excessive noise/muffler on motor vehicles), HRS 291C-206 (modifying mo-ped motor), the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, 15-19.28 (mufflers—noise-controlling devices) and ROH 41-31.1 (prohibited noise—boombox/radio in vehicles).

The 2003 records showed that most of the citations were for loud boomboxes or radios:

» From January through December 2003, 1,563 citations were issued: boomboxes/radio, 890; loud/defective mufflers, 308; modified mo-ped motor, 64; excessive noise/motor vehicle muffler, 186; excessive noise/modified motorcycle muffler, 87; excessive noise/modified motor scooter muffler, 28.

We asked the state Judiciary for statistics from the Traffic Violations Bureau on the numbers of citations issued since then under noise-related laws. Here are some of the pertinent numbers:

» HRS 291-22 (noisy mufflers on motor scooters): 16 citations, 2004; 31, 2005; 38, 2006; 22, 2007; and 13, 2008.

» HRS 291-24 (noisy mufflers on motorcycles): 42 citations, 2004; 12, 2005; 18, 2006; 22, 2007; 87, 2008.

» HRS 291-24.5 (modifying muffler to increase noise): 193 citations, 2004; 340, 2005; 614, 2006; 426, 2007; 349, 2008.

» ROH 15-19.28 (mufflers as noise-controlling devices on any motor vehicle): 349 citations, 2004; 377, 2005; 363, 2006; 266, 2007; and 390, 2008.

It also might interest you to know that police do cite people for blaring car alarms, as well.

Under Section 291-24.6 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, it's a violation if "a motor vehicle alarm system installed in a motor vehicle is activated and emits a sound for more than five continuous minutes."

In 2005, HPD issued six citations for that violation; 23 in 2006; 27 in 2007; and 24 in 2008.

Q: Do you have a good Web site resource for finding places where my boys 14 and 17 can research opportunities for community service?

A: Check out the Aloha United Way's Web site, www.volunteerhawaii.org.

You can customize your search for your sons, including by age and interests.