Under the comments that followed the report are:
- Loud Modified Mopeds - Chun asked if there were any way for more enforcement for loud modified mopeds, for example, safety checks. Sergeant Kurasaki mentioned that HPD has issued citations, but this is an ongoing problem. As there is no requirement for safety checks for mopeds, Sergeant Kurasaki suggested contacting Councilmember Ann Kobayashi to change the laws.
- (Not relevant to noise)
- Decibels - Johnston asked if the traffic code has anything about decibel levels. Sergeant Kurasaki responded that he will find out, but the HPD does not have decibel meters. If a vehicle is stopped, then it is the officer's call. As with drunk driving, Chair Eads added that having the various equipments in each patrol car can be very expensive.
First, the response of Sergeant Kurasaki to item 1. "...that there is no requirement for safety checks for mopeds..."
What Sergeant Kurasaki conveniently chose NOT TO SAY is this: There are ordinances under Hawaii Revised Statues (HRS) that cover moped exhaust noise. They are:
HRS Section 291-24 Motorcycles And Mopeds, Noisy Mufflers; Penalty.
(a) Every motorcycle and moped moving under its own power on a public highway shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in constant operation to prevent any excessive or unusual noise and no such muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device. No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motorcycle or a moped in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of such motorcycle or moped above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the motorcycle or moped except a motorcycle or moped that:
(1) Has three wheels;
(2) Is powered by an electric motor;
(3) Has a full body enclosed cab; and
(4) Has a seat belt assembly or a child restraint system for the driver and passenger;
shall not be required to be equipped with a muffler.
(b) As used in this section, "muffler" means a device consisting of a series of chambers or baffle plates, or other mechanical design, for the purpose of receiving exhaust gas from the engine of the motorcycle or moped, and being effective in reducing noise.
(c) Whoever violates this section shall be fined not more than $100.
HRS Section 291-24.5 Motor Vehicle Muffler.
(a) No person shall use on a public highway, sell, alter or install a muffler which will noticeably increase the noise emitted by a motor vehicle above that emitted by the vehicle as equipped from the factory.
(b) Any violation of this section shall constitute a violation and shall be enforceable by police officers. The fine for this violation shall be not less than $25 nor more than $250 for each separate offense. Any person who violates the provisions of this section may be issued a summons or citation for such violation.
Like most of our noise problems, it is not so much the case that there aren't statutes and ordinances covering the violations, but there there is a total lack of disregard and enforcement by HPD. When confronted with the fact that there are ordinances and statutes in place, and that we don't need to contact Councilmember Kobayashi to change the law, their fallback is inevitably that it falls under the HPD Officers' discretion whether or not to issue a citation. Their extrapolation there is that if they issue the citation it is difficult to prove in court - FINE!!!! ISSUE THE CITATION AND BRING THE PERPETRATOR TO COURT!!! If the case is thrown out, FINE!! Next time they're caught - ISSUE ANOTHER CITATION AND BRING THE PERPETRATOR TO COURT!!! Sooner or later taking off day after day for court appearances is going to seem more of a hassle than FIXING THEIR EXHAUST SYSTEM!!! Officers' Discretion, REALLY!!!
Next is Sergeant Kurasaki's response to question about decibels; his comments about Officer discretion; and Chair Eads' comments about how expensive the equipment is.
The Sergeant is correct in responding that he will research whether there are anything in the traffic code about decibel levels.
For the most part our ordinances and statutes are VERY BADLY WRITTEN so that it truly is difficult to enforce. It's the Catch-22 of asking the question, "How loud is loud." We do have a excellent ordinance under Revised Ordinances of Hawai'i (ROH) 41-31.1, "Prohibited Noise." This ordinance says simply that if you can hear a car stereo from a distance of 30 feet from the automobile it's too loud. HOW HARD IS THAT?? This type language is patterned after the "Plainly Audible" laws, statutes, and ordinances that are springing up all across the United States, and which have withstood court challenge after court challenge. No need for decibel meters, no need for anything except the officer attesting that the "noise" was heard beyond the threshold distance. And it's not necessary to define the lyrics to a sound, for example. Just that the noise is audible. You can read more about the "Plainly Audible" standard at at the VERY EXCELLENT analysis of the standard HERE (clicking will open a new browser page).
We mentioned "Officer discretion" earlier. What a catch-phrase for "I don't feel like enforcing."
As to Chair Eads' comment that this equipment is expensive, someone should ask the Chair for their qualification in determining procurement costs, and what, exactly, is the cost of a noise-meter? I think if Chair Eads had exercised due diligence the answer would be that a very effective noise-meter can be purchased for under $250.00. And not every car needs one. Just a couple for each HPD district office to be rotated at shift change should suffice.
Those who can attend the 4 December meeting at Noelani should attend and take on Sergeant Kurasaki's comments armed with the facts available from this website. At the end of the day it is really quite simple: HPD REFUSES TO ENFORCE NOISE ORDINANCES AND WILL USE ANY REASON TO JUSTIFY THEIR LACK OF ENFORCEMENT!!
Neighborhood Board #1, Hawaii Kai, asked their HPD District 7 representative to begin reporting the number of noise violations issued each month by District 7 during their monthly report. It was ridiculous. 1 or 2 - maybe, and those were for loud noises at parties and gatherings. And, despite the huge number of automobile, moped, motorcycle, and boom car violations occurring many times each day, especially on weekends, there was NOT ONE citation was written on ROH 41-31.1 which is the easiest to defend of all the ordinances and statutes.
One final comment. Please review blog entry below 11/14/2011. As well-written and easily enforceable as ROH 41-31.1 is now, our former councilperson Tulsi Gabbard attempted to make it more noise-friendly by extending the range of offensive noise from 30 feet to 100 feet. Fortunately the effort didn't gain traction. But jut to show, you have to watch our council and legislators.
Be vocal. Add you comments!! And continue to speak out and ask the tough questions of our elected officials and HPD!!