Editor's Note: Longtime contributor Chris Werner not only knows a thing or two about turning wrenches on late-model GMs, he is also an attorney at law. A member of the bars of New Jersey and New York, his specialties include automotive lemon and warranty law, and he also assists clients in dealing with raffic tickets. If you find yourself in need of legal assistance, check out www.chriswerneresq.com for more information on his practice.
Last time, attorney Chris Werner deciphered the exhaust noise and nitrous laws in four of the biggest ten states for GMHTP readers-California, Florida, Illinois, and Maryland. This month he'll finish with Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Important disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Our purpose here is to highlight applicable laws and provide brief, inconclusive opinions as to what they may mean, as appropriate-it's a starting point, and the rest is up to you. The confusing array of legislation in any given state can be cumbersome, so we're quoting the important parts of various statutes, rules, or regulations and leaving it up to the reader to look up the full text and draw his or her own conclusions. Remember, he body of law that can affect ourhobby is fluid and can change at any time, and is also subject to anyone's interpretation-whether by your state legislature, a town judge, or a police officer on the side of the road. (That's why the SEMA Action Network is working to get better-drafted, less subjective laws on the books-see our sidebar for more information.) If faced with a traffic summons, you are advised to consult an attorney in your state, as only when an attorney-client relationship has been created can you be advised as to the best course of action for you!
Michigan Compiled Laws 257.707 requires the use of "a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise and annoying smoke," and states that "[a] motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a properly operating exhaust system which shall include a tailpipe and resonator on a vehicle where the original design included a tailpipe and resonator." Michigan Compiled Laws 257.707b states basically the same thing, adding that "[a] motor vehicle, while being operated on a highway street, shall be equipped ... to prevent noise in excess of the limits established in this act."
But just what this "excess" noise means is not well defined. Michigan Compiled Laws 257.707c proscribes the use of vehicles on public roads that exceed certain decibel limits, but, as in Illinois, the sound limit is an in-motion measurement inclusive of other sound like tire noise, not just that coming from the exhaust. However, it goes on to state that "[a] person shall not operate a vehicle on a highway or street if the vehicle ... is not equipped with a muffler or other noise dissipative device, or is equipped with a cutout, bypass, amplifier, or a similar device." Further, no one may "sell, install, or replace a muffler or exhaust part that causes the motor vehicle to which the muf- fler or exhaust part is attached to exceed the noise limits established by this act or a rule promulgated under this act," and "[a] person shall not modify, repair, replace, or remove a part of an exhaust system causing the motor vehicle to which the system is attached to produce noise in excess of the levels established by this act, or operate a motor vehicle so altered on a street or highway." The statute also states that used car dealerships are forbidden from selling cars not in compliance with the above, and Michigan Compiled Laws 257.707d states that doing so is prima facie evidence of a fraudulent act (and also provides penalties for the other infractions above).