1. #1
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    Faulty/loud muffler

    For a while I was using faulty exhaust as one of my standard OWI-enforcement PCs. And while it never came up in court, I stopped doing it because one of my fellow officers pointed out that I had no way to proving that the exhaust was faulty. I'm not a mechanic, I don't have a decibel-meter showing it's too loud, I'm not going to crawl under the vehicle to take pictures. How can I continue making those stops and help ensure that something will stick in court?

  2. #2
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    Stop for other equipment violations like defective tail lamps, headlamps or registration lamps. No front plate is other thing you can stop for. Moving violations like speeding, deviating from designated lane, etc are better because they help support showing how impaired the driver may be.

    As far as the defective muffler stop, you just have to articulate in your report how loud over normal the muffler is......the law states that no aftermarket muffler can make the car louder than the factory.....therfore all those mufflers you see people put on Honda's, Toyota's, etc are illegal.

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    There is no reason to discontinue stopping people for defective exhaust. The statute does not require mechanics to be there on scene to give you advise. If the common person would believe that the exhaust system is louder than the day the vehicle was new... Defective.

    Also, you probably see 100s of the same models driving around throughout the months. Only 1 of them is very loud... Defective.

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    I agree with Zee. Think about it this way, if these people came driving by your house would you be annoyed with the loud noise from the modified, defective, or missing exhaust? Then it's time to talk to these people. I don't believe in writing too many tickets for it unless they've shown that driving it for 6 months when it's louder than a big rig, or something similar. Make them report to another officer to sign off. Then they have to take action, otherwise you can send them a cite if you deem necessary.

    If the sound is obviously loud, I'm stopping it. If it is borderline and I have another reason for the stop, I'll just ask how long the exhaust has been like this, and if they plan on getting it fixed. The modified ones are usually stops that involve educating the person on the laws, (as quiet as factory, etc) and they can take it off to avoid citations in the future.

    These are good stops, and I have never had a problem in court with one. 99.9% of the time the people will admit to knowingly operating the vehicle with an exhaust 'issue', like I said before with the missing exhaust, modified-amplified, or simply defective/inadequate. Diesels are tougher to gauge based on how loud some of those beasts are from the factory, so unless I'm sure I let it go. Motorcycles are the same thing for us. Usually, just enlighten them on the laws and encourage them to comply with the law to avoid getting cited. Running into them a few months down the road cracking those pipes, and I think a cite is in order.

    I am convinced the best arrests come from loud exhausts. Warrants, OWI's, etc. Don't deny yourself this type of stop.

  5. #5
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    I'm a big fan of the equipment violation stops. My best drunk-driving fishing hole is a stretch of road that's less than a mile long through our jurisdiction. Rather than follow them well beyond our boundaries looking for driving behavior, I just make the stop and look for the bloodshot eyes, slurring, odor of intox, admission of imbiding, etc. Easily 90% of my OWIs come from equipment issues like missing front plates, rear license plate lamps (they love it when I inform them a $2 bulb is responsible for them going to jail ), obscured plates, headlights out, etc.

    That's good info on the exhaust violation. Especially the part about getting them to admit they knew the exhaust was defective.

    As far as the exhaust add-ons, like the so-called 'fart cans' on the tailpipe, I'll stop those because I know the vehicle didn't come from the factory that way.

    On a side note, it's always funny when I stop someone for modifying their exhaust and I ask them if it came from the factory that way. Every time I ask, it's the same answer: "It was on there when I bought it from the dude."

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    Worst-case scenario, you stopped a drunk for loud exhaust, he spends thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to pick apart your reason for stopping him for loud exhaust in order to get his OWI thrown out. You might have a rough day on the stand testifying, but you got a drunk off the road, and he/she paid for it either through attorney's fees or by being found guilty. You did your job either way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemanmatt View Post
    Worst-case scenario, you stopped a drunk for loud exhaust, he spends thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to pick apart your reason for stopping him for loud exhaust in order to get his OWI thrown out. You might have a rough day on the stand testifying, but you got a drunk off the road, and he/she paid for it either through attorney's fees or by being found guilty. You did your job either way.
    Or even better, they spend thousands of dollars in attorney fees AND are found guilty!!

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    Do you have in-car video?

    Turn on the microphone as you approach, speaking in a normal tone of voice so there is a standard to which someone can compare the loud exhaust.

    Or, just articulate in the report how far away you heard the car, your windows were up, how much you had to raise your voice to talk to the driver, you had to tell the driver to turn off the car to be heard...etc.

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    Some more good suggestions.

    And I agree about conviction/non-conviction. I long ago gave up worrying about whether people would find some way of getting out of the ticket. I try to do a good job and write a decent report. If they have to spend several grand finding a loophole to avoid conviction, so be it. I get paid the same either way, and I accomplished my #1 objective -- protect other drivers from their dumb a55.

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    All excellent advice so far. One other thing you can look for is the exhaust leaking from the pipes or underneath the car while it is running and is cold out. You can simply testify that you see exhaust coming from the tail pipe on all other cars and from the right vantage point you are able to see the exhaust coming from the leaking points between the engine and muffler exhaust pipe.

    I have been through trials and hearings for stop based upon loud exhaust and I testified to the fact that I could hear the exhaust was very loud, and not the normal exhaust or engine sound for vehicles like that and all went well.

    Learn to be very descriptive and detailed in your reports and as suggested video tape evidence is excellent. If DUI enforcement is your thing and your department doesn't have a video system, you may be able to contact Mothers Against Drunk Driving (With your Chief's okay) for help with obtaining video systems and the support equipment for the in car system. Active DUI enforcement can also bring grant money to your department for DUI specific enforcement if your Chief is willing to apply for it.

  11. #11
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    Do you guys ever pull over harleys for that crap?

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    I don't because I'm not sure what a stock system would sound like for them. I'm sure if it was super loud I'd figure it out.

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    I don't pull over Harleys because it would be too hard to prove the exhaust system was not factory-installed.

    Loud motorcycle exhausts are a particular pet peeve of mine, even though I know other cops that ride them. It just seems unfair that some kid can get a ticket for cranking his stereo and yet many motorcycles have exhaust systems that are significantly louder.

    Of course, the state that is home to HD is hardly likely to enact any law that penalizes loud MC exhausts.

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    Actually the factory exhaust on Harley's is very quiet and falls in same range as autos as far as noise levels. Anyway 80% of my narc arrest stem from equipment violations on vehicles. Gotta luv lazy dopers with ****ty cars. Then they usually rat on their dealers to cover there tail so it works out just fine,

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