Guide to Laws About Noise in California

NoiseIf that party next door is getting out of hand (or your party is getting lit and you hear the cops at the door), here’s what you need to know about the laws in California.

Keep in mind that cities and counties generally have further laws on noise, so check out our Guide to Noise Law in Los Angeles and Guide to Noise Law in SF.

What are the general noise restrictions in California?

Throughout the state of California it is a crime to create a “disturbance of the peace” by maliciously creating a “loud and unreasonable noise.” Violations may result in up to 90 days in county jail and/or fine of up to $400.1Penal Code 415

It is also a crime to cause or maintain a “public nuisance” which interferes with the “comfortable enjoyment of life or property” by a community.2Penal Code 370, 372 Violations of this are generally a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or fine of up to $1000.3Penal Code 19

And a person causing excessive noise can also be sued for a public nuisance, where many people are affected, or for a “private” nuisance where the noise only affects one individual.4Civil Code 3479, 3480, 3481

What are the rules on noise from vehicles?

In California, cars may not make noise louder than 95 decibels, and motorcycles may not make noise louder than 80 decibels.5CA Veh Code Sec 27151, 27200-27207 Vehicles must be equipped with mufflers to minimize engine noise, and excessive vehicle noise, such as from modified exhaust systems, is prohibited.

What are the rules on noise from construction?

Construction activities are subject to noise restrictions to minimize disruptions to nearby residents. This area is generally regulated by local ordinances, where construction is typically limited to certain hours of the day.

Are there laws about quiet hours?

Many local ordinances establish “quiet hours” during which noise levels must be reduced to avoid disturbing residents’ sleep and peace. These quiet hours typically extend from late evening to early morning hours.

Does my landlord have any responsibility for noise issues?

Yes, possibly. See our Guide to Tenants Rights in California – Minimum Standards for Rentals.

Resources

Contact your local officials about noise problems. For significant, ongoing issues, you may want to contact a lawyer who specializes in real estate, landlord-tenant, tort, or nuisance.

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