Road Rage Veto

Governor vetoes Ebbin bill investigating so-called ‘macho mufflers.’

Take this bill and stick it in your tailpipe.

That's what Gov. Glenn Youngkin is telling state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), who introduced a bill creating a work group to investigate muffler noise. Ebbin said he introduced the bill to address the sudden rise in blaring exhaust pipes on Virginia streets. His bill motored through a Republican-controlled House, although now the governor is vetoing the bill

Youngkin says the bill is "unnecessary." Northern Virginia Democrats disagree.

"I cannot recall a governor ever vetoing a simple study. Ever," said Del. Vivian Watts (D-39), a former Secretary of Transportation who has served in the House more than 20 years. "I have no idea where the governor got the impression that the problem has been solved. My constituents say it hasn't been solved."

The governor's veto message pointed to a bill he signed last year restoring vehicle noise as a "primary offense," meaning officers can once again pull over people specifically for making too much of a racket. Vehicle noise was a primary offense before a 2020 bill took it off a list of pre-textual offenses, although lawmakers quickly backtracked and put it back on the list last year. But even now, six months after the new law went into effect, many lawmakers say they are still hearing from exhausted constituents clamoring for action.

"Muffler noise is a constant source of irritation all over the commonwealth," said state Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "In the West End of Richmond, it's guys coming in their pickup trucks from the rural areas and having an engine-gunning contest at night. In my district, it's folks in some of the apartment complexes who are making their Mini Coopers sound like Ferraris."

LOBBYISTS FOR AUTOMOBILE manufacturers opposed the bill, led by General Motors. During the General Assembly session, the lobbyist for General Motors told lawmakers the Detroit-based automaker was concerned about enforcing a standard that limited vehicle noise to 85 decibels at 50 feet. She also pointed to a fiscal impact statement suggesting that the Virginia State Police would need at least $200,000 to implement that kind of restriction.

"General Motors cares about this issue because we manufacture vehicles that have the capacity to reach 85 decibels," said Christie Noonan, a lobbyist with the Richmond-based firm Reid Smith. "The bill would have made those vehicles illegal on Virginia roads."

Ebbin's bill would have created a work group convened by the Virginia Department of Transportation, including input from automobile manufacturers, law-enforcement officials and prosecutors. After Ebbin introduced the bill, state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36) added a provision to make sure local governments were in the loop. During one meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee, Surovell suggested a better approach might be for lawmakers to give local governments more power to crack down on so-called "macho mufflers."

"Perhaps the solution to the problem might lie in giving local governments the authority to do things as opposed to us trying to adopt some statewide solution on this problem," said Surovell. "I think it's more of a problem in denser localities than it is in rural areas."

Note: The Mount Vernon Gazette visited this issue before when residents complained about the loud mufflers, read here
Mount Vernon Serenity Cut Short By Noisy Tailpipes (