People v. Meyer

Decision Date10 July 1970
Citation313 N.Y.S.2d 93,63 Misc.2d 580
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff, v. Frederick T. MEYER, Defendant.
CourtNew York Court of Special Sessions

Jack Lazarus, Monroe County Dist. Atty., for plaintiff; James Morrison, of counsel.

Frederick T. Meyer in pro. per.

C. BENN FORSYTH, Town Judge.

The defendant was given a Uniform Traffic Summons for a noisy muffler on a motorcycle in violation of Section 381(1) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

The wording of Section 381(1) is the same as the wording of former Section 15(1), which was held to be unconstitutional in People v. Zanchelli, 8 Misc.2d 1069, 169 N.Y.S.2d 197 and People v. Sisson, 12 Misc.2d 18, 176 N.Y.S.2d 785. The legislature repealed Section 15(1) and enacted Section 375(31) establishing a new standard for muffler noise regulation. The Court of Appeals in People v. Byron, 17 N.Y.2d 64, 268 N.Y.S.2d 24, 215 N.E.2d 345 has held the new Section 375(31) constitutional. It would, therefore, appear that serious doubts exist as to the validity of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 381(1), which should be remedied by the legislature.

This Court, however, has elected not to decide the constitutional issue (cf. Smith v. Schnabel, 61 Misc.2d 628, 307 N.Y.S.2d 557). This case may be resolved on other grounds.

The testimony in the case at bar, failed to disclose any defect or break in the motorcycle muffler. The People attempted to prove their case merely by showing the cycle was noisy. The officer's testimony was that when the cycle accelerated he could not hear his radio. The People failed to meet their burden of proof.

The Court of Appeals in People v. Byron, supra, 17 N.Y.2d 64, 67, 268 N.Y.S.2d 24, 27, 215 N.E.2d 345, 347 stated that it was constitutional to prohibit 'excessive or unusual' noise. The prohibition is not of all noise, but only unusual noise. To establish such an offense the People must show either a decibel rating above that allowed by law under Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 386, Or that the vehicle in question made noise in excess of what was usual for vehicles of its class (cf. People v. Byron, supra, at p. 68, 268 N.Y.S.2d at p. 27, 215 N.E.2d at p. 348). The mere showing that a vehicle made noise, is insufficient.

The charges in the case at bar are, therefore, dismissed.

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