WASHINGTON — A law that targets loud neighbors in Loudoun County takes effect Thursday, giving sheriff’s officials the authority to issue tickets in response to complaints about excessive noise.
Previously, if a resident complained about someone in his neighborhood being too loud, there was nothing the sheriff’s office could do about it.
“There were no teeth to the law,” said Phyllis Randall, the chairwoman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. “The sheriffs would go out and kind of say, ‘Can you quiet it down?’ But there was no enforcement mechanism behind this.”
Now, noisy neighbors can receive a warning or a ticket.
The sheriff’s office says violations can range from a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $500, to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
County supervisors passed the measure in July. Previous regulations had been rendered useless by a 2009 Virginia Supreme Court ruling that struck down a noise ordinance in the City of Virginia Beach for being too vague. That ordinance was similar to the one used by Loudoun County, leaving the county’s rules unenforceable.
With the new law, supervisors tried to make the definition of excessive noise clearer:
- Music cannot be audible within 100 feet or more from the sound’s source between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.;
- A horn on any vehicle in a public place can’t be sounded for more than 20 seconds except in an emergency;
- Spinning tires and racing of engines are prohibited, as is noise from the absence of a muffler.
There are exceptions for bells of chimes from a place of worship; noise from operation of a public facility; school-sponsored activities, including sporting events, and county-approved parades and fireworks.
Lawmakers next plan to tackle the problem of excessive noise emanating from businesses.
“That will come before our board in late September or early October,” Randall said.