Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Lack of mufflers

Why don’t the police do anything about noisy exhaust systems?

By Tim Schewe

There sometimes seems to be two types of people when it comes to the sounds emitted by vehicle exhaust systems: those who hate it and those who try to balance calling attention to themselves yet not provoke a response from traffic law enforcement.

Why don’t the police do anything about noisy exhaust systems? Let’s take a quick look at this accusation and see if it has merit. In 2019, the last year ICBC has published traffic ticket statistics for, police issued the following:

Violation Law Number of Tickets Sanction

• 22 Inadequate Muffler tickets under section 7.03 MVAR, $109 fine, no points, no record

• 800 Unnecessary Noise tickets under section 7A.01 MVAR, $109 fine, 3 points, record entry

• 3,500 Defective Vehicle tickets under section 219 (1) MVA, $109 fine, no points, record entry

The last category, Defective Vehicle, includes all types of vehicle equipment violations, not just those related to the exhaust system. It is up to the officer to choose which section to write the violation under.

So, some enforcement is taking place. Keep in mind that no matter how irritated you might be, this noise is a nuisance rather than a safety hazard. Given a choice between the two, the safety related violations must be a priority for enforcement.

There are exhaust system standards to follow and they are set out in paragraphs 22 and 27 of the Schedule to Division 7, MVAR.

Decibel limits are prescribed, but the standard is for testing in an inspection station and the police are working at the roadside, most often without the benefit of a measuring device.

When a decibel meter is not available to take the measurements to see if a vehicle complies, the opinion of an officer as to whether the engine and exhaust noise is “greater than that made by other vehicles in good condition of comparable size, horsepower, piston displacement or compression ratio shall determine whether exhaust gases are expelled with excessive noise.”

It’s not simply a matter of writing a ticket and carrying on with the patrol. Officers must be prepared to justify everything that they write in traffic court.

In my experience, a conviction for not having a muffler at all is difficult to obtain, and an unnecessary noise conviction based on the opinion of an officer is very unlikely. I have never had a civilian witness available to give evidence, and perhaps that is what is missing for a conviction.

The outcome of a trial can be mixed.

At the conclusion of one, the presiding Justice of the Peace found the driver guilty and commented, “You are not a criminal, you are nothing but a social pest!”

On the other hand, I also saw a provincial court judge dismiss a ticket where the motorcycle involved was equipped with straight pipes, no muffler at all. He acquitted the motorcyclist because he felt that it simply wasn’t a matter that was important enough to be tried in his court.

Another avenue for enforcement to consider is the use of a Notice & Order #2. Designated Inspection Facilities are required to have a decibel meter and use it as part of an inspection. Inspectors will also insure that all of the necessary exhaust components are installed and functional.

There are significant penalties for ignoring the order and it will also discover and require the repair of any other safety defects that might be present.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Column

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Raptors Rescue Society will receive $387,350 from the province to help construct its planned Education Centre. (File photo)
Raptors Rescue Society to receive $387,350 from province

Funding to be used for new Education Centre

Police are investigating after a man was killed at a home on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police investigating early-morning murder in Duncan

One arrested after man killed at Cowichan Lake Road home

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in fatal Chemainus hit-and-run

Investigation expected to be lengthy and involved

The Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is planning on opening a child and youth advocacy centre. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Child and youth advocacy centre eyed for Cowichan

Cowichan Women Against Violence Society hopes to open centre later this year

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in workplace accident at Gold River logging site

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A publicly accessible defibrillator as well as naloxone and first aid kits are included in a stand that has been installed at Crescent Beach. It is one of two planned for the South Surrey neighbourhood as St. John Ambulance works to install 1,000 of the life-saving devices around the province. (Contributed photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

Sponsors sought for stands that cost about $8,000 to equip and install

Left: Oakland County Jail. Right: Canuck Todd Bertuzzi on November 2, 2005. (CP/Chuck Stoody)
Former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi arrested for suspected DUI: report

The Canadian winger had a complicated history in the NHL

Most Read