Bill focuses on quieter streets

Rep. Price writes on a bill at her desk on the Michigan House floor.

State Rep. Natalie Price (D-Berkley) writes on a copy of a bill at her desk on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, at the Michigan Capitol.

BERKLEY, Mich., April 29, 2024 — State Rep. Natalie Price (D-Berkley) introduced House Bill 5696 on Thursday, a bill to crack down on vehicles intentionally modified to create excessive noise while being used. The issue is particularly prevalent along the M-1 Highway, or Woodward Avenue. The bill ensures police officers have the authority to stop vehicles for excessive noise and increases penalties for related infractions.

“Day and night, Woodward is often used as a racetrack by drivers who have modified their vehicle’s exhaust systems with boosters that amplify their noise and often sound like gunshots. The effect is deafening noise and a seriously eroded quality of life for residents and businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods. We need to clamp down on this purposefully disruptive behavior with a targeted approach,” Price said.

The bill increases fines and penalties not only for those who alter a vehicle’s exhaust system to increase noise production but also drivers of those vehicles. It will allow law enforcement to impound or tow vehicles of repeat offenders. The bill provides grace for first time offenders, vehicles experiencing disrepair and those who can demonstrate compliance with the Motor Vehicle Act before their ticketed court date.

“We’re well aware of the issue of modified vehicles and drag racing on our roads. Existing law limits what we can do about it, and unfortunately, the current $100-per-offense civil infractions do not seem to deter this behavior,” Birmingham Police Chief Scott Grewe said. “With higher penalties for those intentionally seeking to disturb the peace, this bill will hopefully disincentivize vehicle modification and offer us more tools to deal with those who continue doing so.”

“While cruising on Woodward is a treasured tradition, the ear-splitting noise from new aftermarket exhausts on cars and bikes which run as loud as possible every day from the first warm day of the year until the first frost and late into each evening has made living along this historic corridor a nightmare for many residents. Noise pollution at this volume is proven to have highly negative impacts on health — noise which disrupts sleep, wakes babies, shakes houses and even sounds like gunfire. Due to gaps in our current laws and because Woodward Avenue is a state highway, our local law enforcement departments have been unable to enact and enforce reasonable noise ordinances in the best interest of their residents. I’m grateful for Rep. Price’s work to finally bring a solution forward and encourage others to support,” state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) said.

Constituents have consistently cited noise on Woodward Ave. as a significant concern. Noise pollution is correlated to increased stress and lack of sleep that can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders, type 2 diabetes, and memory, attention and concentration issues. Noise disturbances are particularly problematic for vulnerable populations including young children, seniors, veterans suffering from PTSD and those undergoing at-home healing. Excessive noise can also be very difficult for pets.

“My neighbor came over earlier tonight and was truly concerned it was gunshots not cars backfiring. My dog has been scared several times just today and ran inside as she tried to enjoy her backyard. My neighbor with a young child has been kept up until 2 a.m. due to the noise on a weekday. I have had to close my windows and use the AC when I don’t want to just to keep the noise level down so I can sleep,” said Alyssa Marsack, a constituent.

HB 5696 has been referred to the Committee on Transportation.