Thanks to a change in state law, cops in Virginia can again start pulling over the drivers of vehicles with loud, modified exhaust systems.
But it’s not going to happen right away.
A change in state law that is going into effect on July 1 will reverse 2021 legislation that prevented officers from pulling over drivers just for having an excessively loud exhaust system. That law, sponsored by Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D), was intended to reduce pretextual traffic stops and racial disparities, but the months that followed saw an uptick in noise complaints from those living along highways and busy roads.
The noise got bad enough that Arlington County included reversing the legislation in its 2022 state legislative priorities.
With its enforcement authority restored, the Arlington County Police Department says it will start with a public education campaign. After that, spot enforcement will take place, and the department will evaluate whether “other traffic enforcement efforts are needed.
“With changes in legislation, ACPD first begins with a period of education as our goal is to seek voluntary compliance with the law,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “ACPD is sharing information regarding the legislative change through social media, listservs and with community members and organizations. Once sufficient public messaging is completed, the department will evaluate if random rotating enforcement of observed violations as part of our routine patrol duties, is sufficiently addressing the issue or if other traffic enforcement efforts are needed.”
“Community members can report an ongoing and recurring loud exhaust issue using our ongoing transportation complaint enforcement request,” Savage added. She noted that this is essentially a return to the same rules that were in place prior to the 2021 law.
“It’s important to note that the language of the legislation has not changed,” Savage said. “The provision restricting officers from stopping a vehicle for this violation is being removed effective July 1, 2022 which will essentially move this to a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense.”
An informal ARLnow poll in March found that 64% of respondents supported automated noise enforcement for vehicles, instead of or in addition to enforcement via traffic stops.
More from ACPD:
ACPD will continue to educate community members regarding the legislative change. To report an ongoing and recurring loud exhaust issue, use the department's Ongoing Transportation Complaint Enforcement Request form: https://t.co/t4P6gQjTQA
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) June 23, 2022
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