Rules of the road exist for those loud motorcycles

I live on a well-used street in Medford and I have to ask the question, why are motorcycles allowed to operate with little or no mufflers? There are numerous times each day where motorcycles roar by my residence actually shaking my windows.

I have a friend who's a retired police officer. He agreed with me that for whatever reason the enforcement of loud motorcycles has disappeared.

— Mike P., Medford

No need to get revved up, Mike, we heard you over the crowd of those rebels without a cause. We checked with Lt. Mike Budreau with the Medford Police Department to find out what the law says, how they enforce it and what you can do.

"There are decibels set out for all vehicles," Budreau said. He cited Oregon Revised Statutes vehicle code 815.250, which says in a nutshell that the exhaust must be in good working order, in constant operation, and must meet noise emission standards determined by the Department of Environmental Quality. For motorcycles built after 1976, they can emit a noise no louder than 89 decibels detected a distance of 25 feet away. Motorcycles from before 1976 can emit 94 decibels.

Although Budreau says Oregon State Police have decibel meters, Medford police officers don't, so officers issue citations based on Oregon Vehicle Code 815.025 — causing unreasonable noise with vehicle.

"That's what we at MPD cite for loud mufflers," Budreau said. "If we observe a vehicle with a loud muffler, we try to note how far we heard it."

He added that the officer will also compare how loud the offending vehicle is compared with others on the road.

The other benefit to citing based on that statute is that offending motorcyclists can't get out of a ticket just by temporarily replacing their muffler, taking their bike to DEQ for a clean bill of health, undoing their repair and continuing loudly on their way.

If there's no cop around when you need one, you can take matters into your own hands — without resorting to violence, of course. Officer Budreau said if there's a frequent offender on your street, you can keep a record of times and dates of a motorcycle out of compliance passed your home. Be sure to include a description of the vehicle and a license plate number.

"Come down to City Hall, fill out a form, submit it to the judge," Budreau said. "Police officers cannot make a probable cause ticket unless it occurred in their presence."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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