A Brisbane barrister who has written a paper on the legality of aftermarket motorcycle exhausts has urged all riders to challenge exhaust noise emissions fines, saying police will get the message and stop issuing them.
Levente Jurth wrote his paper in January 2016 and is now representing a group of riders caught in a recent blitz on motorcycle exhaust noise on Mt Tamborine.
“Prior to publishing my paper, the police deemed any motorcycle exhaust modification as illegal. My paper has had the benefit that police now appear to accept that aftermarket exhausts are legal and they also give the 5dB tolerance required by the regulations,” says Levente who rides an Aprilia Tuono 1100.
While that is a welcome start, Levente says it does not go far enough.
“The applicable regulations, standards and testing procedures contain dozens of requirements, each of which the police need to satisfy before a roadside noise emissions test is valid and capable of securing a conviction for an offence,” he says.
“In most instances, it is to be doubted whether the police are even capable of complying with some of those requirements at a roadside test”.
Levente has many questions about the vagaries and contradictions in the motorcycle exhaust noise laws. Issues raised include:
Why are there different arbitrary noise levels for different bikes? For example, an Aprilia Tuono 1100 is certified at 107dB plus the 5dB allowance (some Ducati’s are even higher), whereas many other bikes are certified at well below 90dB – given a 3dB increase is twice the volume, why is one bike lawfully permitted to be four times louder than another bike?
How can roadworthy certificates be issued without requiring a noise emissions test, but a rider can be fined for riding a bike that has a current roadworthy certificate?
In the absence of an authorised testing facility, how can riders who are genuinely trying to comply and do the right thing know how loud their exhaust is?
Police officers have no training or expertise in acoustics or sound engineering. They are manifestly unqualified to conduct noise tests that require compliance with technical regulations and standards.
In a practical sense, how are riders supposed to understand and comply with complex and contradictory regulations and standards where even experts in the field debate their true meaning and proper application?
“Once these matters are exposed – whether during the course of a court case, or otherwise – it is hoped that the long-term outcome will be meaningful reform leading to uniform regulations that are clear, capable of being complied with and apply to everyone equally”, he says.
A video supplied by a rider whose bike was recently noise tested shows the difficulty of the officer trying to rev the throttle to the required rpm while checking the noise meter in his other hand.
Levente has seen the video and says “it’s comical”.
“He’s not doing much right, but it’s not really his fault. It’s practically impossible for him to do everything required of him correctly, and to do so simultaneously”.
He encouraged anyone who is stopped for an exhaust noise test to shoot a video of the testing to ensure police comply with requirements.
He says it may be handy evidence if they later challenge any fine.
“You are allowed to video even though police may tell people not to,” he says.
We asked police for advice on videoing them and they said there is no reason the public cannot film police, just as the media are allowed to film them in a public place.
Police can ask you to stop filming, but you don’t have to acquiesce unless they give a lawful direction for good reason, such as the person is a safety risk (filming in the middle of the road) or, for example, they are filming a minor, a witness or a suspect.
“Therefore, if you tell the police officer that you are filming because it will be evidence of his or her conduct and procedures that will be used in court should any charge be proffered, then the ambit of any ‘lawful direction for good reason’ would have to overcome that,” Levente says.
“It follows that if anyone filming a police officer undertaking a noise test is asked to stop filming, the person should tell the police officer that they are filming because it will be evidence of his or her conduct and procedures that will be used in court should any charge be proffered, and politely but firmly request the police officer withdraw the direction to stop filming with that in mind.
“If the word on the street is that everyone who gets a fine should challenge it, and that starts to occur, then I believe the police will give up on these meaningless roadside stings, which as we all know are just revenue raising, and address the issue properly and sensibly – which starts with an overhaul of the regulations and the standards.”
Amnesty-free noise checks
As many riders may be genuinely unaware that their bike’s noise level is not legal there has been a call testing facilities to be provided with an amnesty for those who do not comply.
Similar compliance testing facilities are periodically offered by Transport and Main Roads for caravan and truck drivers.
It is believed SEQ police have only three noise meters and a handful of staff who have been trained in their calibration and use.
While chances are slim that you could be stopped and your bike checked, riders who want to ensure they comply have virtually no opportunity to officially check their exhaust noise level.
It should be noted that Levente is not soliciting for more work. He actually suggests fined riders approach specialist solicitors who handle traffic matters.