Virginia Exhaust Law Petition. Looking for support.

Posted by Blue Talon Boy, May 24, 2012
Mid Atlantic Region DSM - Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia

  1. Blue Talon Boy

    Blue Talon Boy Proven Member

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    Leesburg, Virginia
    Alright, if your car is registered in Virginia, listen up. I got a ticket for "improper exhaust" yesterday in my '91. I mentioned to the officer that the car had just been through state inspection the day before. He said it doesn't matter, its no longer part of the inspection process. State trooper mind you. I got curious on just what the law said regarding exhaust. It is as follows:

    § 46.2-1049. Exhaust system in good working order.

    No person shall drive and no owner of a vehicle shall permit or allow the operation of any such vehicle on a highway unless it is equipped with an exhaust system in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual levels of noise; provided however, that for motor vehicles, such exhaust system shall be of a type installed as standard factory equipment, or comparable to that designed for use on the particular vehicle as standard factory equipment. An exhaust system shall not be deemed to prevent excessive or unusual noise if it permits the escape of noise in excess of that permitted by the standard factory equipment exhaust system of private passenger motor vehicles or trucks of standard make.

    The term "exhaust system," as used in this section, means all the parts of a vehicle through which the exhaust passes after leaving the engine block, including mufflers and other sound dissipative devices.

    Chambered pipes are not an effective muffling device to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and any vehicle equipped with chambered pipes shall be deemed in violation of this section.

    Now, that being said, this law States that any aftermarket exhaust that is not factory style design, is illegal. Shortly after reading the law, I got curious. My exhaust is big, but not annoyingly loud to draw attention, so I thought. I did a quick google search for "Virginia exhaust ticket" and looked through ten pages of results. Of the ten pages, about a page were not actually vehicle related. Another page or so was American car forums complaining, though many referenced an import car. The remaining eight pages of results were import car forums (ie, dsmtuners.com, my350z.com, supra, subaru, honda, acura, miata) . It would seem to me, Virginia law officers are letting the majority of American cars slide and coming down on the imports.

    Here is what I propose we do, surrounding States have adopted a noise emission level that should not be exceeded. 95 dbs seems to be the standard number. This would allow a non-stock style exhaust, but not obnoxiously loud. I have read many people complaining of this $91 ticket, but haven't seen any attempt at changing the law. We can petition the state to change the law.but we will need the support of not only the DSM community, but many others as well.

    I have seen far too many straight piped trucks and Mustangs go unchecked, to be a target in a car that is so old, most cops don't even recognize it, and couldn't honestly tell if it was stock or not.
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  2. DzMiniz

    DzMiniz Proven Member

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    Martinsburg, West_Virginia
    Commonwealth state FTL
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  3. screamingdemon

    screamingdemon Proven Member

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    In Louisiana it's illegal to make your exhaust louder than it came from the factory as stated under law. Do people get pulled over for it? Yes, but very rarely. The only ticket I've ever had was for "Modified Exhaust" on my Eclipse GS. The APEXi N1 catback brought unwanted attention to my car with looks more so than the volume the exhaust emitted. Every vehicle I've ever owned has had "modified exhaust" but it's just something I'm going to have to risk. It was a $125 ticket and a non-moving violation at that so I'm not sweating it to much. Do I think it's bogus? Yes to a degree.

    With all that being stated I hope you manage a way to petition it to at least allow a db reading with a set limit.
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  4. HighPSI TSi Guy

    HighPSI TSi Guy Proven Member

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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    It won't work. The state makes money off the tickets. Most people aren't going to leave the state due to exhaust laws, and if they do, real estate is a big enough market that new people will take their place immediately. They don't care. I've gotten tickets for stock headlights and stock exhausts before. I always win them in court but it robs me of a day and is annoying. Only thing you can do is wait till the car is antique so they'll stop caring. I can't wait for mine to turn 25 years old. Though it's still technically illegal as an antique (laws of year of manufacture apply), they will most likely let it slide. I've defended so many equipment tickets there really isn't any aspect of the equipment laws I don't know. There's a lot of loopholes. They use their "discretion" loopholes on us, so it's plenty fair to use bad wording against them in court. Problem is your chances of the judge allowing you to speak is 50%. I almost got tackled by the guards in court once because the judge basically refused to accept my plea of not guilty. He kept asking me repeatedly telling me I should just say guilty, then didn't want to let me speak to defend myself. Unfortunately, not uncommon in Va traffic courts. It's a money collection room, not a courtroom. The judge is just there to make it appear like they are stealing your money in a legal manner.
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  5. Evo3Codriver

    Evo3Codriver Proven Member

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    Alexandria, Virginia
    Welcome to the club. Just wait till your insurance jacks your premiums for something not even traffic-related.
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  6. RamenPride

    RamenPride Proven Member

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    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    The last time I got pulled over the cop said nothing about the exhaust......
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  7. screamingdemon

    screamingdemon Proven Member

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    I don't know about your insurance provider but I know State Farm doesn't increase your insurance rates if it's a non-moving violation. Nothing shows on my record either.
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  8. yhype

    yhype Proven Member

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    Thurmont, Maryland
    If a cop wants to be a dick, he will find a reason to give you a ticket....I once got a ticket in Frederick city MD while just sitting parked in a parking lot, did not even have the car on and got a 50$ fine for having a modified exhaust.
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  9. HighPSI TSi Guy

    HighPSI TSi Guy Proven Member

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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    Yup. Happened to two of my friends here in Va too. Cop wrote them tickets while they were at a gas station buying some food. Had the tickets written and ready when they walked out to their cars. It's obviously not legal for the cop to do, but as the cop told my friends that night when they questioned it "what are you gonna do about it? call the police? I am the police."
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  10. Blue Talon Boy

    Blue Talon Boy Proven Member

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    Leesburg, Virginia
    Maybe so, but you can file a formal complaint with the department. Fighting the ticket as the Virginia law is written, is difficult at best. The only two choices you have are stock and stock. The judge will tear you apart by asking, "is it stock?" Now I could see a strategy of, "prove it isn't stock" but I don't know how that would go...
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  11. screamingdemon

    screamingdemon Proven Member

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    Cotton Valley, Louisiana
    It seems like no matter what we're fighting a losing battler regardless when it comes to this topic.
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  12. Evo3Codriver

    Evo3Codriver Proven Member

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    Alexandria, Virginia
    Reason you can't fight it is because its poorly written an meant to be vague to generate more $ for the commonwealth. Says you can't be louder than stock but no where does it refer to a reference of where the stock decibels are recorded or how it is to be measured.

    I got my ticket driving a car w/ out of state tags. I can see giving out-of-staters getting tickets for driving in VA w/ a radar detector because those they can remove from dash or windsheild but how the hell is anyone going to swap exhaust when traveling at the border?

    Here is my tip to avoid getting another. Remove any emblems on your car, well mine has RalliArt ones. When pulled over ask why before handing registration. If they reply because of your exhaust ask them what year and make of car it is. If they can't tell you (they may know from running your tag before approaching you), then ask if they don't know what kind of car it is, how do they know what the factory exhaust is?
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  13. HighPSI TSi Guy

    HighPSI TSi Guy Proven Member

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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    "prove it isn't stock" is the way the court system is supposed to work. But finding a traffic court that actually gives a fair decision vs taking all the money it can is like finding a needle in a haystack. The laws are made for revenue purposes. The state wants money out of it and nothing more, they could care less how guilty or innocent you are.

    If you get the right judge, and behave properly, with the correct defense, you CAN defeat the ticket, because it IS their responsibility to prove you guilty. I've done it 9 times. The problem is most judges just let it go in one ear and out the other, bang the hammer and say "pay over there" without a care.

    And we can complain to the department about their behavior all we want. In the end it's a cop against us and the law will side with the cop no matter how corrupt. Video evidence would be the only hope for justice in that case, and I'm pretty sure they can find a law to put you in jail for that too. Happened in Maryland a couple years ago when someone took a video of a cop harassing a motorist.

    There's actually a law against debadging a vehicle as well. I can't remember how to find it, but I've been shown the law before
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
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  14. Blue Talon Boy

    Blue Talon Boy Proven Member

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    Leesburg, Virginia
    I did a quick Google search, no such law that I could find. However, it is advised against by numerous officers for BOLO (be on the look out) reasons. If your car is stolen and your tags removed, it can cause confusion if the car has been debadged.
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  15. Evo3Codriver

    Evo3Codriver Proven Member

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    Alexandria, Virginia
    Cops couldn't catch my car if stolen anyway and since there is no revenue, why would they?

    Reason they pick on otherwise law-abiding tuners is they can't catch real criminals.
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  16. HighPSI TSi Guy

    HighPSI TSi Guy Proven Member

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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    I wouldn't say it's because they CAN'T catch real criminals. It's that real criminals cost the state money while equipment tickets gain the state money. Since modern law enforcement is a business and not about protecting, you can guess what they try harder at.
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  17. screamingdemon

    screamingdemon Proven Member

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    Even if you could fight the system and leave it up to them another arguable situation would be "ok, so i (officer blahblah) can't officially prove your exhaust isn't a stock unit. With that being said, I can say at my discretion that it is a faulty muffler causing to much noise." That's going to be hard to get out of, just like trying to prove you weren't disturbing the piece. It's the officers word against yours.

    Any way you look at it the car enthusiast gets the bone. I'm not sure about your state but for instance in mine if you have a rock peck or very small crack in your windshield you can be issued a citation for a "faulty windshield". When it comes to uncontrollable petty BS like this it's best to bite your tongue, be respectful to the officer with the hopes he will return the favor with possibly a warning.
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  18. HighPSI TSi Guy

    HighPSI TSi Guy Proven Member

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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    I got a ticket once for a 3" crack in the passenger side upper corner of my windshield. The same officer gave me a ticket for my stock exhaust. I got out of both with the proper defence. It really all depends on the judge. If you get lucky the judge will actually acknowledge the "prove it" defense (which by the constitution is the correct way). I've done it successfully 9 times. Failed once. That judge wouldn't let me speak, wouldn't even let me plea not guilty. I said not guilty and he said "Son you should just plead guilty" and I said "not guilty" and he said "too bad you're guilty today, pay over there" and directed me to the office to pay the fine. But what can you do. He's the law. The state likes the money. He's not gonna get fired any time soon.
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  19. laserspeeddemon

    laserspeeddemon Proven Member

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    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    Dave and I are experts at this law.

    It really is less hassle to pay the ticket online. I make 4 times as much as the ticket in a single day. So taking even half a day off to fight it is loss for me, especially if I get a corrupt judge is more interested in generating revenue (as Dave mentioned) to pay his own salary.

    The best way to beat this ticket is to not get one. Drive a stock car. Otherwise you could build a rapport with the local law enforcement. I did that back in 2010, Cops new my name as an advocate against street racing. I got pulled over twice for exhaust and let go. ;-)
    #19
  20. gstcop

    gstcop Probationary Member

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    Police officers and most people can see the diffeerence between a stock and aftermarket muffler. The best thing to do is get the information from where you bought your muffler/exhaust system stating it conforms to DOT/Virginia standards. Do not think that just because you got a ticket the judge is automatically going to side with the officer. You always have your day in court. When you get a ticket it merely is stating there is probable cause you are in violation of that traffic offense. It is up to the judge to decide if you are wrong or right, not the officer. Go to court and sometimes you can educate the judge why your aftermarket muffler/exhaust is legal by showing him the information as I stated earlier. Be professional, have your information ready, be knowledgeable of this topic, and do your best.
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  21. Blue Talon Boy

    Blue Talon Boy Proven Member

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    The issue isn't that. It's how the law is written. It says stock or stock replacement. There are countless cars in the area that are significantly louder then my DSM and draw more attention. I don't like the way the law is enforced. Here and there, pick and choose. It should be all or none in my opinion. Go catch some real law breakers, not a guy out for a leisurely cruise going five under the speed limit.
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  22. gstcop

    gstcop Probationary Member

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    I understood you wanted to get the law changed. This is why I suggested going to court with information so that a Judge may see your point and agree with you. If you feel you were not in the wrong, go to court. Do not worry who or why others get tickets or don't get tickets. Worry about yourself. If you win in court than that officer should not write a ticket again since the Judge agreed with you. If you just want to complain then it does you and everyone else no good. This is the best information I can give you, best of luck.
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  23. GSLENK

    GSLENK Proven Member

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    they don't do fix-it tickets in VA?

    Man. The only cool thing about VA is their gun laws. everything else sucks.

    Is the droopy drawers law still in effect from 2006?
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  24. marcman804

    marcman804 Proven Member

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    First, let me say Im sorry this is so long.
    I just received a ticket for my exhaust. This was the first time I drove my car in months and the other night I came to my parents house where I keep my car parked (due to stupid street parking at my apartment) and I wanted to drive the car to the car wash in the local town of Farmville, VA. Well after I washed my car I was on the way home and I was exiting out of the town and there was a county cop parked in the entrance of a store, the speed limit is 25 thru that area so I had the clutch pushed in just coasting so I know there is no way he could hear my car. As soon as I passed him I seen him creep out and turn on his lights. I went ahead and pulled over and the came up and did the usual, "license and registration and do you know why I pulled you over". I was polite and said "no sir I don't". He said my exhaust was too loud and then went to his car to write the ticket. I have Greddy Evo II exhaust on my car and with the cams it idles very low so I know there is no way he could have heard my car sitting in his. I have the the print out stating the exhaust is 50 state legal. Do you guys think if I present this to the judge will he let me off or should I just bite the bullet and pay it? This is a very hick type of town, being that if you dont have a muscle car or a 4x4 jacked up to the moon they will bother you. I even got pulled over with my GS300 because the cop thought my tint was too dark and its stock smh.
    #24
  25. rellow88

    rellow88 Proven Member

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    You would really piss off the officer but in court you can ask for his ase certification so he can determine what is OEM equipment or for the decibel reading from your exhaust to prove any loud or excessive unusual noise to break any noise ordinance violations. And that your exhaust is in good working order with a catalytic converter and a muffler and exits beyond the rear passenger compartment. And with no proof besides the officer saying that it is an usual or to loud of a noise to you does not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the exhaust system is not working order.
    #25

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