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Legislation to increase fines for illegally modified cars awaits Cuomo’s signature

Max Parrott

The state Legislature recently passed legislation to increase the penalty for drivers and repair shops that modify cars, in order to decrease excessive noise in neighborhoods. That bill is now heading to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

The “Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act,” or SLEEP Act, was introduced by Brooklyn state Senator Andrew Gounardes and co-sponsored by Queens state Senator Joseph Addabbo — who said he has received many complaints regarding the issue from his constituents in his district, particularly in neighborhoods like Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of Ridgewood.

“Loud and excessive motor vehicle noise is not only annoying, it has become a quality-of-life issue which can contribute to impaired health conditions, such as hearing loss to exposed individuals of all ages,” Addabbo said.

The senator said the previous fine of $150 was just not enough of a deterrent. Under the SLEEP Act, the penalty would increase $1,000, but Addabbo isn’t sure whether that will be enough to stop the noise. 

“I’d love to see it at $5,000 but we know what we’re able to pass,” Addabbo said. “We’ll evaluate if the issue still exists after this bill is implemented. We may have to consider $1,500 or $2,000.”

Addabbo expects the enforcement of this bill to decrease drag racing in New York as well. 

“This [bill] resonates. It’s not only a noise issue; it’s unsafe,” Addabbo said. “If we can crack down on the drag racing because we’re addressing the noise issue, then we solve two issues at once.”

Many New Yorkers prioritized noise and quality-of-life issues as they voted in the primary elections this year.

In District 30, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside, Councilman Robert Holden made unreasonable noise a focus of his office and re-election campaign.

“The nuisance of excessively noisy cars racing, blowing lights and stop signs, revving their engines and doing burnouts on the street and at illegal gatherings has plagued our neighborhoods for too long,” Holden said. 

“I have just recently met again with NYPD Commissioner Shea at the 104th Precinct to address this issue from an enforcement perspective, which will also be critical,” Holden added. “There’s nothing wrong with the car hobby, but the noise level and behavior have to be within the law.”

The bill was passed on June 10 and now waits for Cuomo’s signature to enforce the new fine. 

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