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Behind-the-Wheel

Not easy ticketing for noisy motorcycle exhausts

Noisy exhaust problems

“I’ve been looking forward to eating a meal on our back deck and enjoying the warm sunshine outdoors for a while now.

A recent evening was the first comfortable opportunity, so my wife and I took advantage of it. The breeze was rustling the branches, the birds were chirping, the frogs were peeping and the motorcycles were whining and rumbling.

Why don't the police charge drivers of motorcycles with no, or ineffective, mufflers? I'm a bit surprised these seasonal complaints haven't started showing up in the DriveSmartBC inbox yet.”

For enforcement personnel, the situation of no muffler at all is probably the easiest to deal with.

A quick examination of the pipe will reveal no obstruction and a ticket can be issued. The explanation in court is a simple one and the traffic court justice is assured of the situation, making a conviction more easily obtained.

Having an inadequate muffler is where the difficulty lies at the roadside. While the regulations are clear that the opinion of the inspector is sufficient, the traffic court justice is not so easily assured, and without an independent witness or a measurement with a decibel meter, a conviction is not nearly as easily obtained.

The next problem is that decibel levels are specified for an inspection facility, not the side of the highway where the police operate. The levels would serve as a guideline but are not definitive.

Tickets issued under the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (MVAR) for exhaust system violations specifically are few and far between. In fact, police did not issue any tickets under 7.03 MVAR in 2021. That said, about 3,274 tickets were issued under section 219 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), the "catch all" section for vehicle defects.

Some municipalities have incorporated noise rules into their traffic bylaws that may be used instead of the MVA and MVAR.

Inspection orders

Instead of issuing a violation ticket, police may choose to issue an inspection order instead.

Here's what the inspection manual that guides a designated inspection facility says about motorcycle noise emissions.

The opinion of an inspector as to whether the engine and exhaust noise emission 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.

Must be comparable to OEM and confirmed with decibel meter.

• equipped with any noise-enhancing device

• confirm noise emission level with decibel meter for any vehicle with non-OEM, modified or altered exhaust system

ICBC does not publish data on vehicle inspection orders No. 1 and No. 2 issued by police, so there is no indication of how often this tool is used to try and solve the problem.

Loud Pipes Save Lives

Having a loud exhaust to some riders is either a safety or a lifestyle issue.

"Loud pipes save lives" is a common justification but according to the Canada MotoGuide, they do not. The majority of collisions are frontal “look but didn't see” incidents.

Regardless of the action that the police might take, sometimes the exhaust is not going to be repaired, or will be repaired long enough to pass inspection and then put back the way it was in the first instance.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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