"Exhausting" New Regulations for Motorcycles, Automobiles

April 6, 2022

For some, the chirping of birds is the first harbinger of spring. For others it is the robust exhaust note of a motorcycle. Spring is the time of rebirth and surprise, and for many motorcycle and some automobile owners it will be a time of unwelcome surprise.

On April 1, 2022 legislation known as the "Sleep Act" became effective which will send reverberations through the motorcycle industry while purporting to quiet the reverberations from motorcycles and automobiles (Senate Bill 784B).

Already roundly criticized by the motorcycle and automobile community as over reaching, the act makes it illegal to sell, offer for sale, or install a cut-out, bypass or similar device for the muffler or exhaust system of a motor vehicle above that emitted by the muffler or exhaust system originally installed on the vehicle.

The fine for a violation would be up to $1,000. This law effectively prohibits the sale of any exhaust systems that are louder than originally installed equipment and “crack down on the supply issue and really stop these mufflers from being installed in the first place,” said Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored the bill.

Although including automobiles, the market most affected by the law will be motorcyclists. Not content with preventing the future sale of offending motorcycle mufflers, the law has in its sights the removal of all existing offending mufflers.

The pressure point to accomplish this is the annual vehicle inspection that is required in New York State. No vehicle may receive an inspection certificate if the motorcycle exhaust has been modified in a manner that will “amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of a motorcycle above that emitted by the exhaust system originally installed on such motorcycle.”

The net result of the effective date of this law is that a myriad of motorcycle owners who waken their slumbering machines after a long winter rest will now be confronted with a bike that cannot be inspected unless the muffler is removed and the exhaust system restored to no louder than original equipment.   

Repair and inspection shops who must make the decision as to whether the motorcycle muffler on the vehicle is louder than original equipment are at risk for losing their certification to conduct inspections for three or more improper inspection certifications within 18 months.

Designed to foster better sleep for those offended by loud pipes, the law will create more than a few sleepless nights for motor enthusiasts and the motorcycle and automotive industry in New York.

Click here to read the release from Gov. Hochul's office detailing the new regulations. 

Charles Swanekamp focuses on business law, commercial litigation, and the defense of accountants and attorneys in disciplinary and malpractice matters. His litigation practice includes business valuation for closely held corporations, shareholder disputes, securities litigation, contractual disputes and trademark and copyright litigation. Mr. Swanekamp also practices in sports and entertainment law and represents both amateur and professional athletes and sports organizations as well as radio and television personalities on a wide variety of legal matters. He can be reached at 716-566-7253 or [email protected]