California Mulls Using Sound-Activated Cameras To Catch Loud Cars

A new bill has been approved by the California State Legislature which automates The Golden State’s enforcement of its law against loud vehicles from January 2023 to December 2027. Senate Bill 1079 wants to use sound-activated cameras to catch loud cars in six West Coast cities, Autoweek reports. As of this writing, the new bill is yet to be signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

California is known for its stringent enforcement of laws concerning road users, especially in terms of emissions and the future of electric vehicles.

According to SB 1079, the five-year “sound-activated enforcement system” uses cameras with sensors that get activated whenever the set noise levels exceed the limit. Once triggered, the cameras should be able “to obtain a clear photograph of a vehicle license plate.”

Of note, the current legal limit for exhaust notes in California – 95 decibels for cars and 80 for motorcycles built after 1985 – will carry on should the bill gets signed by the governor. However, details on how the cameras can zero in on the offending vehicle amid the sea of cars, as well as how they can differentiate between cars and motorcycles, are not yet available.

The specific cities and roads where the automated enforcement will be employed are not specified in SB 1079. However, a spokesperson for California State Senator Anthony Portantino said that the city government will be tasked to determine which thoroughfares will have the sound-activated cameras, Autoweek reports.

Meanwhile, the new legislation has laid down regulations to protect road users. Signages will be mandatory before entering roads with automated enforcement, while first-time violators will not be charged with a fine. The city governments will also be required to develop payment plans, deferment options, and fine waivers for low-income offenders who exhibit a temporary inability to pay.

The amount of the fine for violators is not yet set as of this writing. 

California isn’t the first state to employ an automated camera system to clamp down on noisy vehicles. New York is currently enforcing a similar system, which can incur a fine of $875 and above to violators.

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