What is the law concerning loud mufflers?

Iowa Code 321.436 and Dubuque Code 9-12-321.436 each indicate that "Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive noise or annoying smoke."  The Dubuque Code specifically lists prima facie violations as:

  1. The use of a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device upon a motor vehicle upon a street;
  2. Equipment marked with either "off road use" or "not for street use";
  3. Excessive revving and/or acceleration which can be heard at a distance of at least two hundred feet (200'); or
  4. The operation of a vehicle making excessive noise so as to be audible at a distance of at least two hundred feet (200').

The law does not use a specific volume (decibel) level to define what is considered "excessive," nor does it require a law enforcement agency to measure the decibel level of a violator before issuing a citation.  A law enforcement officer will take in to account the totality of the circumstances at the time of a violation when determining the best course of corrective action.

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