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Fairfax County police cruiser (via FCPD/Facebook)

A change in Virginia law will allow police to once again pull over vehicles with excessively loud exhaust systems, starting tomorrow (Friday).

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (June 28), officials said the change was much needed, citing noisy cars as one of the top complaints they receive from constituents.

“This is a very annoying issue to a high percentage of my district’s residents,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said. “I probably hear about this more than anything else.”

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation authorizing police to pull over vehicles and issue violations for loud exhaust systems.

Virginia eased rules on exhaust noise levels after the General Assembly passed legislation sponsored by local lawmaker Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) in 2020. Hope and other advocates argued at the time that police were disproportionately pulling over drivers of color for minor infractions, like broken tail lights, tinted windows, and loud exhaust systems.

That law went into effect in March 2021.

However, the change seemed to lead to a rise in noise complaints related to loud exhaust systems in Fairfax County and neighboring jurisdictions.

So, a new bill was created, passed, and signed into law by the governor this year that specifically made exhaust systems “not in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual levels of noise” a primary offense, meaning police can now pull over drivers specifically for that.

Braddock District Supervisor Walkinshaw and Springfield District Supervisor Herrity said they often hear from residents about loud vehicle exhausts. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said expensive, new exhaust systems with the express purpose of making noise are popular among some in his district.

Even Hope, the sponsor of the original bill, admitted to FFXnow that the 2020 bill had “unintendend consequences,” though he did vote against this session’s legislation.

“This [legislation] was in response to the unintended consequence in the 2021 law of some motorists taking advantage of the law change and installing obnoxiously loud exhaust systems on their vehicles, disturbing families and neighbors,” he wrote. “I heard many complaints from constituents that supported the intent of the law but the unintended consequence was a disturbance of the peace.” Read More

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