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Cops keep ear out for noisy cycles

Tim Mutrie

Riders of loud choppers, hogs, crotch rockets and other motorized cycles take note: The Aspen Police Department is stepping up its noise pollution enforcement.

Violators may face traffic, as well as criminal, citations.

At the urging of a multiagency task force, the Aspen Police Department will now act on its authority to issue misdemeanor disorderly conduct citations to motorcycle riders who violate local and state noise pollution laws.

“We’re just asking for some peace and tranquility in town,” said Patrol Supervisor Leon Murray. “The city attorney has interpreted the statutes so as to say that if the muffler appears to be emitting more than the normal amount of sound, we can deem it to be in violation of the muffler ordinance.”

In the past, police have targeted motorcycles with “straight pipe” exhaust systems, or motorcycles on which the sound-deadening baffles have been removed from the cycle’s exhaust system. Modified exhaust systems increase a cycle’s horsepower, as well as the noise they emit.

“We’re not going to be inspecting for baffles anymore,” Murray said. “We’re just going to be listening to the machine and determining on the spot whether it appears to disturb the peace.”

Riders will also be checked for insurance, registration and eyewear, Murray noted.

Offending riders can be cited for an equipment violation for modified exhaust systems, which carries a $50 fine, or a misdemeanor disorderly conduct violation, which can mean up to a year in jail or probation, and a $1,000 fine.

“At minimum, first contacts will probably receive a written warning, which will go on record,” Murray said. “And on a second contact, you will be written a ticket.”

An avid motorcycle rider himself, Murray explained: “If riders draw attention to themselves by revving their motorcycles, they’ll be contacted. You can have a legal exhaust system, but still make a lot of noise, and if you do, you may face a violation.”

Murray urged citizens who observe loud motorcycles in town to call the police at 920-5400 with the following information: a license plate number of the motorcycle, and a description and location of the operator.

“We will make every attempt to contact that driver,” Murray said.

The motorcycle noise reduction task force included representatives from the law enforcement agencies throughout the mid- and upper-Roaring Fork Valley, including the Colorado State Patrol, the district attorney’s office, Aspen Environmental Health, and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Murray said.


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