To crack down on loud mufflers, lawmakers consider noise detectors

Meanwhile, some critics say the idea is a "total government overreach."
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 4:37 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 10:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers are proposing a new solution to the age-old nuisance of illegal muffler noises — audio recorders.

The noise detector devices are already catching violators in other major cities, and a pilot program could bring them to Hawaii.

State Rep. Adrian Tam, who is spearheading the bill, said the devices are said to cost $25,000 to $30,000 a piece.

There are already laws on the books saying driving with modified mufflers that cause loud noise illegal, but advocates of this bill say those laws are not being followed and the device would crackdown on rule breakers.

“It has woken up a lot of residents,” Tam, said. “And our residents are rightfully upset because there people who are violating the law and disturbing the peace.”

Tourists have to hear it for a week but Waikiki residents — like nurse Grace Lopez — hear it all the time. She works the night shift, and said she’d pitch in her own money for the pilot program.

“I love to sleep quietly but the thing is sometimes it would be noisy I would say at least every day” Lopez said. “By the time I wake up they’re already gone so I won’t know the license plate, the make, or care itself.”

The devices to catch violators would contain a camera and a microphone to detect noise above what’s allowed. Police could then send citations out like they do with the new red light cameras.

Tam is hoping to install half a dozen recording devices in the pilot program at locations to be determined by the state Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, some feel there are better ways to spend taxpayer money.

“I think that spending $150,000 on six street lights that are going to have microphones so we can tell whose cars are being too loud. I think that’s total government overreach,” said community organizer Sheryl Bieler.

“I think the money can be better spent,” Bieler added.

But Tam is defending the proposal.

“I don’t think its a waste of resources to enforce our current laws, especially when it comes to this,” Tam said.

“Noise pollution is a public health issue.”

If the bill passes its third reading in the Senate next week, it moves forward to the House.