Southern Brooklyn

Hochul visits Bensonhurst to sign bill cracking down on illegal mufflers, exhaust systems

October 29, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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They’re trying to put a stop to the noise.

Gov. Kathy Hochul was at the FIAO Brooklyn Il Centro Italian American Cultural Center in Bensonhurst on Friday, Oct. 29 to sign a bill designed to crack down on illegal muffler and exhaust systems into law.

The legislation, known as the SLEEP Act and the “Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act,” was introduced in 2020 and sponsored by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes to combat excessive noise from drag racers and other motorists who tamper with vehicle mufflers and exhaust systems. 

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During the conference, Gov. Hochul focused on the drivers who create loud drag racing noises on the mufflers of their vehicles and how it both frightens and frustrates neighbors.

“They seem to not care about other people, and now we are giving them a message,” she said. “You need to care or else there are financial consequences. This bill is going to stop repair shops from being able to install those enhanced noise devices. It will prohibit repair shops from selling, offering for sale or installing any muffler with an exhaust system that increases noise, and to do that, you have to have penalties.”

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes with members of Bay Ridge Advocates Keeping Everyone Safe (BRAKES). Photos courtesy of State Sen. Andrew Gounardes

There will be a suspension of an inspection station’s operating license upon a third or subsequent willful violation. The act will increase the maximum fine for after-market modifications and violations from $150 to $1,000.

“When people get their vehicles inspected every year, there’s going to be a question and a test to find out whether this occurred,” Hochul added. “That will be the ultimate way to get full compliance. While they’re there, the business or entity doing the inspection should remedy that right there or they will get a penalty, and the owner will as well.”

Gounardes was pleased to see the bill finally signed.

“This is a quality-of-life and public safety issue that plagues our community for no logical reason other than to simply make noise,” he said. “Now that the SLEEP Act has been signed into law, we can remove these loud and polluting vehicles from our streets once and for all. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for signing this bill so we can hold this illegal behavior to account.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan said when neighborhood residents started hearing these mufflers, they thought it was just a problem around in Southern Brooklyn, but they soon realized it was a citywide issue.

“People were not getting sleep because of these obnoxious and illegally modified exhaust systems,” he said at the conference. “Not only was it disrupting people’s quality of life and preventing them from getting a goodnight rest, but it was scaring people because some of these mufflers are tuned to a way that mimics gunshots and people would be calling 911, thinking that they heard gunshots when it was actually an illegally modified car with these mufflers.”

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