SB 435 — The New California Motorcycle Noise Bill

As motorcycle accident lawyers (and as motorcyclists ourselves), we keep abreast of new laws in California that affect our motorcyclist brothers and sisters.  One such law was SB-435, which prevents use of some after-market exhaust pipes.

In September of 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 435, also known as the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act, into law.  The new law will give LEO’s (Law Enforcement Officers) the ability to cite motorcyclists riding model years 2013 and newer, for having after-market pipes that do not carry an “EPA Approved” label.

The Bad News:  The law will require motorcycles to maintain their original federally-required emissions exhaust systems, or purchase and use only aftermarket equipment that includes a readily-visible EPA stamp that certifies federal emissions compliance.  A first violation will be a fix-it ticket and a small fine. Subsequent offenses will result in fines of $100 to $250.  

The Good News:  This could have been a whole lot worse.  The new law will only affect motorcycles from the 2013 model year and forward.  This law could have been much worse.  In its original form, SB 435 would have rendered thousands of motorcycles on the street illegal.  As originally drafted, the bill would have been extremely costly to many (perhaps even most?) motorcyclists.  California Senator Pavley’s original version of the law would have cost ALL riders with pipes not having matching Federal EPA noise standard stickers, a $300 ticket.  You would have to replace “non-compliant” aftermarket exhausts with stock mufflers, often costing upwards of $800 — IF you could even still find them at all.  The $300 ticket would have also been a moving violation — a point on your DMV record, which would probably mean an increase in your insurance premiums.  So even if your pipes were legal, if they didn’t have the right EPA sticker, you would be facing fines and points on your license.  But believe it or now, that’s not the worst part.  Any cop could have stopped you just because he claimed he didn’t see the EPA sticker on your mufflers while zipping by at 65 mph down the freeway.  In fact, you could be ticketed without even starting your bike, just for not having the right EPA stamp on your pipes while parked in any public area.

It remains to be seen just how the new regulations will impact the cost of aftermarket pipes in California.  But thanks to the efforts of ABATE of California, the worst scenarios were removed from Senate Bill 435.

If you have any questions regarding the new regulations in California, or if you’ve had a motorcycle accident and wish to discuss your legal options, our motorcycle accident lawyers are happy to talk to you.  We handle motorcycle cases throughout California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and the San Francisco Bay Area.