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New York City is a noisy place. Honking, shouting, slamming. The city is alive with a continuous soundtrack. No wonder it can’t sleep. Still, in an arguably futile effort to quiet things down, the city instituted the “Stop Spreading the Noise Act.” Unfortunately, the act includes NYC traffic cameras with noise-detecting qualities. While it sounds like it could be a successful initiative, it could target drivers with stock, unmodified loud cars to the tune of $800 on the first offense. 

Owners with loud cars could receive a $800 fine for a first offense or $2,500 for a second offense for noise violations in NYC

It’s true; the “city that never sleeps” has its sights set on lessening vehicle noise. As part of the city’s “Stop Spreading the Noise Act,” NYC traffic cameras are targeting loud cars that exceed 85 decibels (dB) as they pass the equipment. After a vehicle triggers the camera, the owner receives an $800 citation for the first offense. However, if drivers get caught exceeding the noise ordinance twice, they can expect a $2,500 fine. 

NYC Council Majority Leader Keith Powers explained the impetus behind the traffic cameras in a 2023 statement. “We’re going after those who are potentially using an illegal vehicle, a modified vehicle, some that are really acting loudly,” per Road & Track. However, the 85-dB restrictions are inadvertently impacting owners with sports cars and performance vehicles. 

If you think that means you won’t trip the cameras without an aftermarket exhaust system, think again. A Porsche owner with a bone-stock 997-generation 911, not what you think of when you think “loud cars,” netted himself an $800 fine for accelerating past one of the NYC traffic cameras. The unmodified flat-six-cylinder mill and stock exhaust system were enough to trigger the camera’s noise-detecting equipment.

The skyline of New York City complete with buildings, traffic cameras, and pedestrians.
The New York City skyline | TomasSereda via iStock

Even worse, NYC isn’t granting any reprieve to vehicle owners, even if they appeal with proof of their vehicle’s stock configuration. In the case of the Porsche 911 owner, he appealed twice with evidence of his vehicle’s stock setup. Unfortunately, The Big Apple denied his appeal both times, saddling him with the citation and the defeat. 

Tragically, NYC isn’t the only location to consider such measures. California already has noise-measuring equipment and ordinances vilifying loud cars, trucks, and motorcycles.