Huntington Beach Increases Modified Exhaust Enforcement 

May 5, 2021 Updated: May 5, 2021

Huntington Beach is teaming up with other coastal cities to more aggressively enforce illegally modified vehicle exhausts.

During a May 3 presentation to the Huntington Beach city council, police Chief Julian Harvey outlined the city’s ongoing problem with cars and motorcycles with modified exhausts, and how police intend to discourage the practice.

“Every city police chief that I’ve talked to … is impacted by this epidemic,” he said.

Coastal cities are affected to a greater degree than other areas, he said, because of the iconic coastline and destinations along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Cars and motorcyclists with modified exhausts can be excessively loud, diminishing the residential quality of life and visitor experience, Harvey said.

He said many local businesses suffer losses from the noise pollution produced by modified exhausts “as pedestrians and other shoppers might avoid an entire area if there is a long line of cars or motorcycles that are demonstrating their vehicle’s ability to create a lot of undue noise.”

Councilmember Barbara Delgleize said the issue is not a new one.

“This is really one of the biggest, most common complaints that I’ve heard in the last eight years,” she said during the city council meeting.

Huntington Beach police are teaming up with other coastal cities’ law enforcement in a pier-to-pier multi-jurisdictional enforcement campaign May 23. Officers will be on the lookout for modified exhausts and other violations from Seal Beach to San Clemente.

“When we combine forces, we’re able to really saturate an area and get a stronger message out,” Harvey said.

Traffic Crackdowns

In 2020, Huntington Beach police issued 337 citations for modified exhausts.

During a more recent campaign from April 24 to 25, police issued 76 citations, including 24 tickets for modified exhausts.

“The beauty of traffic enforcement is you can directly and immediately change behavior through enforcement,” Harvey said. “Everyone that sees us issuing citations has a lasting memory of that image and may choose to not modify their exhaust, or certainly not come to that location in the near future.”

Coupled with the city’s enforcement of modified exhausts are message boards near roadways that signal to drivers that loud muffler noise is not permitted.

Drivers who modify their exhaust pipes with the intent of amplifying the vehicle’s sound, with noise reaching more than 95 decibels, can be issued citations.

A motorcyclist who modifies his or her exhaust could face fines and penalties up to $1,000, Harvey said.

Mayor Kim Carr said putting a dollar amount on the city’s reader boards would get drivers’ attention.

“If you told somebody that it’s a $1,000 ticket for a modified exhaust, that definitely would have an impact on people,” Carr said during the meeting.

Councilman Mike Posey said many motorcycle owners modify their exhausts to increase the vehicle’s performance and alert nearby drivers.

“They think that modified exhausts … enhances the motorcycle’s performance, which it can, but that’s at the expense of increasing noise,” Posey told The Epoch Times on May 5.

“When you make more noise, you are ostensibly more visible to cars and, by extension, presumably more safe. None of that is true.”

Posey said when engineers design motorcycle exhaust systems, they have already checked off several boxes, including safety, fuel efficiency, and rider experience.

“When you get an exhaust system that comes on a motorcycle out of the factory, you should have the confidence in knowing that all of the best compromises in mind were met with the exhaust system that’s in place,” he said.

“Everybody wants to hear their motorcycle. They want to rev it up … in a tunnel or under an overpass, but that’s not a reason to modify your exhaust because it comes at the expense of being objectionable, and a nuisance to your friends and neighbors and the destination that you go to.

“Once Huntington Beach establishes a reputation of being intolerant of modified exhaust systems, those that are on motorcycles with modified exhaust may be inclined, as they go through Huntington Beach, to not make excessive noise and draw attention to themselves in such a way that it earns them a ticket.”