St. Albans tries to put the brakes on noisy cars

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - St. Albans is kicking unnecessary noise to the curb with a new law aimed at cracking down on noisy vehicles.

“When you’re living in a dense area, you’ve got to have more rules than if you’re living in the country,” said St. Albans City Manager Dominic Cloud. He says the updated noise ordinance approved this week is aimed at improving peace and good order in the community after complaints were brought to the city council by residents. “The complaints anyway are less about jake breaks and less about the big thumping bass. It’s more about revving engines and the way the vehicle is operated, not the way it’s configured.”

The ordinance also bans unnecessary acceleration, downshifting, or breaking to make excessive noise. It also focuses on sound systems that can be heard clearly from 75-feet away during the day, and 50-feet at night. “They’re not difficult to comply with. In many cases, just a matter of civility and recognizing that not every behavior is appropriate in every setting,” Cloud said.

Those we spoke to downtown say the noise, at times, is hard to compete with. “A lot of loud mufflers, people cruising up and down during the lunch hour. It disrupted the conversation,” said Chip Porter, a local resident.

“I think that’s a great idea to have a noise ordinance in place,” said Michelle Williamson. “If someone steps out of a restaurant to be on an important work call or a personal call and they can’t hear the person on the other line due to the noise, that would be a problem.”

Cloud says enforcement will provide an educational opportunity for drivers. “The fines and all that, those aren’t the goal. The goal is quality of life, civility, and respecting each other. This allows the officer to pull somebody over and have a conversation about the way they are operating their vehicle,” he said.

Those who violate the ordinance could face a $150 fine for the first offense, $300 on their second offense, and $500 on any subsequent offenses within a 12 month period.

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