New legislation in the City Council would double violations for excessive noise from motor vehicles, with first-time fines hitting $6,000 for excessively loud car exhausts and up to $2,000 for excessive horn honking.

The legislation is sponsored by Erik Bottcher, who represents Chelsea, the West Village and Hell's Kitchen. 

Bottcher said that the harm from loud noises — even the blaring car horns that are synonymous with the soundtrack of city life — are significant enough to city residents that it justifies the high fine increases. 

“More and more studies are coming out now about how harmful this is to people's health, how harmful it is to their mental health,” he said. “It’s been getting worse and worse.”

Indeed, a recent study of the health effects of car traffic in New Jersey found that areas with high levels of noise from motor vehicles had 72% higher rates of heart attacks when compared to quieter areas. Researchers calculated that 1 in 20 heart attacks in the Garden State are attributable directly to excessive car noise. 

The heart attacks, researchers said, are likely caused indirectly by increasing anxiety and stress as well as by disturbing sleep, which can lead to chronic inflammation in the cardiovascular system. 

Bottcher said that the legislation will need to be enforced by the NYPD, which he said was “not currently” doing adequate enforcement of existing laws against excessive noise. 

NYPD and City Hall did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Since the beginning of 2020 through the end of March of this year, the NYPD gave out 245 total summonses for excessive motor vehicle noise related to an exhaust system, according to department quarterly reports, for an average of just over nine each month. 

During that time, 311 complaints over vehicle noise climbed into the thousands each month, peaking at 1,919 in April 2021, according to an analysis of 311 data by NY1 editorial partner THE CITY

Last year, between April and October, the NYPD seized 3,129 dirt bikes, ATVs, scooters and motorcycles in connection with noise complaints, according to numbers provided by the department. 

The new legislation does not raise fines for motorcycles, which are subject to higher fines under the state SLEEP Act for modifications that increase the noise of the motorcycle’s engine. 

Bottcher said that the legislation would apply to both summonses issued by officers and by a pilot program that uses cameras equipped with microphones to automatically give tickets to drivers creating excessive noise. 

That pilot program, which started last July, will run through June, and is funded by the city’s environmental protection department. 

“We are calling for these laws to be enforced by both the police department and hopefully this pilot when it’s complete,” Bottcher said.