Last October, New York governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that increased fines and penalties against motorists and repair shops “that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems to make them excessively noisy.” That wasn’t the only step taken to crack down on noisy cars and motorcycles in the region, though, as NYC has now begun using microphone-equipped cameras to enforce its strict exhaust noise laws.
Road & Track stumbled across a Facebook post this week showing a state notice that was delivered to the NYC based owner of a BMW M3. The order indicates the poster’s vehicle had “been identified as having a muffler that is not in compliance with Section 386 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which prohibits excessive noise from motor vehicles.” It also indicates the vehicle “was recorded by a camera that takes pictures of the vehicle and the license plate,” along with a sound meter that “records the decibel level as the vehicle approaches and passes the camera.”
The order went on to state the BMW M3 owner could bring their vehicle to a local sewage treatment plant to have it inspected by an NYC official, at which point they would have the opportunity to re-install the stock exhaust/muffler or modify the exhaust in a way so that it is in compliance with the state’s traffic code. If the person does not show up to the sewage treatment plant, the notice indicates they could be fined up to $875.
Road & Track reached out to a state official to confirm the legitimacy of the document that was shared to Facebook. A spokesperson confirmed the document was part of a pilot program that began in September 2021 aimed at cracking down on excessively noisy vehicles.
NY defines a sub-10,000 pound vehicle as being excessively noisy if it is “plainly audible at a distance of 150 feet or more.” It’s not clear if the above-mentioned camera system operates on this metric, or if it measures exhaust sound based on a decibel reading when the vehicle passes the camera. It’s therefore not clear if a loud performance car with a stock exhaust could trigger this system, although it would seem possible.
GM offers a number of performance cars with rather loud factory exhausts, including the supercharged 6.2L LT4 V8-powered Chevy Camaro ZL1, Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing and Cadillac Escalade-V, the twin-turbo 3.6L LF4 V6-powered Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and the 6.2L LT2 V8-powered Chevy Corvette.