Cricket or Ticket: NY Now Has Cameras Designed to Identify Loud Cars

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
cricket or ticket ny now has cameras designed to identify loud cars

New Yorkers with aftermarket exhaust systems may want to be extra careful because a law, signed by Governor Kathy Hochul to increase fines on sound violations, now has a new enforcement tool designed to spot noisemakers.

Approved in autumn of 2021, the SLEEP (Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution) Act raised the fine on vehicles producing excess sound in NY from $150 to a whopping $1,000. But drivers are now learning that getting busted won’t necessarily require whizzing past a squad car while their Borla snap-crackle-and-pops surrounding eardrums. NYC residents have begun receiving notices in the mail after being caught by the auditory equivalent of speed cameras.

A notice from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was shared on the Lowered Congress car-culture Facebook group on February 13th before being picked up by Road & Track. In the notice, the DEP explains to the owner of a BMW M3 that their exhaust was found to be too loud and that the car would need to be brought in for analysis in order to avoid additional fines.

“I am writing to you because your vehicle has been identified as having a muffler that is not in compliance with Section 386 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which prohibits excessive noise from motor vehicles. Your vehicle was recorded by a camera that takes a pictures [sic] of the vehicle and the license plate. In addition, a sound meter records the decibel level as the vehicle approaches and passes the camera,” read the order.

From R&T:

The order goes on to tell the owner to bring their car to a location specified by the DEP — a sewage treatment plant, to be precise—for inspection. Show up, and you’ll have the opportunity to get the car fixed to avoid a fine — much like California’s “fix-it” ticket system. The document also informs the owner that if they fail to show up, they could face a maximum fine of $875, plus additional fines for continuing to ignore the summons.

A New York City DEP spokesman confirmed to Road & Track via email the system is part of a small pilot program that’s been running since September 2021. From the description [in the letter], it sounds like it works much like a speed camera that automatically records a violation and sends it to you in the mail by reading your license plate. Instead of a speed gun, this new system uses a strategically placed sound meter to record decibel levels on the road, matching it to a license plate using a camera.

Governor Hochul previously said that making New York’s automotive noise fines the highest in the nation was designed to discourage drag racing after The New York Times speculated that street meets had increased during the pandemic. While your author cannot verify an uptick in frequency, I can attest that late-night meetups persisted through lockdowns in parts of Queens and Brooklyn. There was also renewed interest in breaking the record for completing a full lap of Manhattan after everyone realized there were far fewer people on the street. But nobody ever managed to beat Afroduck — or failed to share a successful run after realizing they’d probably be arrested.

Assertions were made that upping the penalties for noise violations would mean less rambunctious behavior in parking lots and on public roads, resulting in better sleep for those tucked into bed. Though anybody who has lived in the city probably knows that there’s a 100-percent chance that they’ll be subjected to a garbage truck, fire engine, and at least one couple arguing directly outside their window before the night is over.

Whoever moderates Lowered Congress clearly isn’t a fan of the new measures.

“A meter that checks the sound of your car when you pass by, takes a picture of your car and plate and sends the ticket to you, NYC is on a different level of crazy right now,” read the caption for the shared image of the DEP notice.

I have some concerns as well.

An amendment to the SLEEP Act cut any official definition of what constitutes excessive noise in New York State, meaning there’s no formal limit on decibels. Authorities just need to deem it “excessive or unusual,” which causes problems when it’s an automated system that’s issuing those judgments. So you basically have to guess whether or not your vehicle is trigging the camera when it cruises by and cannot get any feedback from the government until it’s too late.

The Department of Environmental Protection said the program will be reevaluated on June 30th. If the government decides it was worthwhile, the plan is to expand its use in New York City before establishing a statewide network of microphone-equipped cameras.

[Image: ChicagoPhotographer/Shutterstock]

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Feb 21, 2022

    Hmmmm, unless this microphone is some sort of isolated or low occurrence incident it suggests they are going to collect video *and* audio everywhere under the guise of "its for the children". I think its simply more evidence of the citizen travel grid control system they are putting in place, but sticking more to the automotive topic it suggests they will be able to ***hear*** your automobile after they implement something drastic (i.e. odd/even plate driving days, or perhaps vehicle confiscation) and will punish you accordingly. Such a system could have defensive military purposes as well depending on how sensitive the equipment is intended to be.

  • Gozar Gozar on Jun 23, 2022

    Loud cars are like farts, everyone things their own are OK.

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.