Boise & Garden City

Bugged by loud cars cruising Downtown? So is city hall, so there are new rules.

Starting July 31, any exhaust modification designed to make a car louder will be illegal in Boise.

That’s all of Boise, not just Downtown’s cruise loop, which runs on Main and Idaho streets, roughly between Capitol Boulevard and 14th Street. However, the cruise was the impetus for the new law, city spokesman Mike Journee said.

People who operate businesses or live near the path of the cruise have long complained about the noise and other problems that arise, mostly on weekend nights, when dozens of people drive the loop and hang out on sidewalks near it. Owners of The Modern Hotel, on the corner of Grove and 13th streets, have been especially vocal, saying they routinely have to refund the cost of guests’ rooms because of noise from the cruise.

The people who cruise, on the other hand, say car noise is part of Downtown life, and people who live or do business in Downtown Boise knew that before they moved in.

A law the city passed Tuesday prohibits the removal of muffler systems from vehicles. It also bans modifying exhaust systems in any way with the purpose of making a vehicle louder. Another section requires that cars “be equipped and operated to prevent the production and release of excessive fumes, smoke or exhaust.”

To monitor noise, police officers will operate sound level meters, according to the law. Sound levels of more than 92 decibels, as measured at 20 feet from the side of the car, are considered “excessive.” The city hasn’t purchased the meters yet or worked out other administrative details, such as exactly how to enforce the new law, Journee said Wednesday.

Breaking the muffler law will be an infraction, with fines of up to $100.

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