Since You Ask: Extremely loud and incredibly close to some ears

Why do Harleys (even "stock" Harleys) not get noise violation citations? If my car made that noise, I'm sure I'd get one.

That loud of a noise must be just as offensive to people if produced by a vehicle with two wheels as if produced by a vehicle with four wheels.

— Richard K., Talent

Well, Richard, we can tell you what some local noise ordinances in Jackson County are — and aren't.

That way you can have it on record the next time you either hit the highway or need to tell a neighbor to quit revving that hog's engine.

Talent's current noise ordinance on the city website describes what kinds of vehicle noise are not considered legal: "The use of any automobile, motorcycle, or other vehicle, any engine, stationary or moving instrument, device or things so out of repair, so loaded or operated in such a manner as to create loud or unnecessary grating, grinding, rattling or other noises."

It is apparently left up to the ear of the beholder to decide what the "other noises" include.

As for Jackson County, there is no general noise ordinance.

The only noise that is regulated in the unincorporated areas of the county has to do with "sound amplifying devices," in other words, loudspeakers, and the basic rule is that the noise cannot be clearly heard from 50 feet or more away.

Medford does have a noise ordinance, but it does not specifically address noise from vehicles, except for large trucks.

Among other things, it prohibits excessive noise from barking dogs and noise from lawn and garden equipment between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The Medford ordinance does note that the rules are "not exclusive" to the noise sources listed, so the rider of a very noisy Harley-Davidson motorcycle could potentially be cited.

State law allows officers to cites people who are found to be "making unreasonable noise." It's a misdemeanor violation that falls under the state's disorderly conduct statute.

So if you live in Talent and a Harley rider is making too much noise, you may be able to report him, especially if it goes on for a prolonged period or is at night in a residential neighborhood.

But the laws are very vague about what constitutes "unreasonable" and, besides, there are many people who might very well consider the sound a Harley-Davidson engine to be a beautiful thing rather than a noise to be quieted.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.


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