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ACPD using electronic signs to warn against loud cars

Arlington County police want you to know that loud mufflers are against the law, and they’re now using electronic signs to get the message across.

The department has deployed four electronic signs in various parts of the county amid an effort to get the word out about a change in state law.

On July 1, Virginia police were again authorized by the state legislature to pull over vehicles for excessively loud exhaust systems. That followed a year in which, in the hopes of reducing racial disparities in traffic stops, state law had been changed to prohibit pulling drivers over for noise alone.

The 2021 law backfired when complaints about loud cars dramatically increased.

An Arlington County Police Department spokesperson tells ARLnow that the department has deployed electronic signs with the message “No Loud Mufflers… It’s the Law” to the following locations:

  • Route 110 near Memorial Bridge (2)
  • S. Joyce Street and Army Navy Drive, in Pentagon City
  • 500 block of S. Glebe Road, between Arlington Heights and Alcova Heights

“The signs are used to enhance ACPD’s efforts to educate motorists on Virginia’s [law] governing exhaust systems,” said Alli Shorb.

As we reported last month, ACPD is seeking to inform members of the public about the change before issuing citations.

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.”

The police department has used its fleet of electronic signs for different purposes over the years.

A pair currently up along Langston Blvd in northern Arlington are advertising a public safety block party and imploring residents to lock their homes at night, respectively. In 2013, a sign placed near the crash-prone Route 50 and Washington Blvd interchange famously flashed “Don’t Hit the Car in Front of You.”

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