Law OKs testing snowmobiles to limit noise

ALBANY – New York has established new standards for measuring snowmobile noise and identifying sleds that can be ticketed for being too loud.

The law, approved late Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, took effect immediately. Both central New York sponsors said the law gives police the authority to crack down on loud, after-market exhaust systems, saying that should prompt more landowners to open their property to snowmobilers.

“It’s just creating an alternate test for law enforcement to use,” Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said. The Utica Democrat, who sponsored the bill, noted that snowmobiling is significant business in Oneida County. He said the machines coming from manufacturers are already compliant, but some riders change their exhaust systems, which makes their sleds louder.

“Many property owners were willing to open their private land to snowmobiles, but had concerns about noise,” said state Sen. Joe Griffo, an Oneida County Republican and co-sponsor.

The New York State Snowmobile Association, which backed the measure, said some landowners have recently closed trails because of those illegal sled modifications. With the law now in effect and winter coming up, the association is looking forward to a season with all trails open, President James Elmore said.

The measure outlaws operating a snowmobile without a working muffler that keeps noise below 78 decibels at full throttle measured from 50 feet away.

It also bans snowmobiles putting out 88 decibels at 4,000 rpm as measured from about 12 feet behind a stationary sled with a sound meter microphone. That will use a test developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The bill sponsors noted that the stationary test has been used in Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado, and takes about 10 minutes to set up and one minute to administer.

Mike Susko, retired owner of North Street Snowmobile Parts & Accessories in Old Forge, said he’s against sleds that are modified to be so loud they wake people up when going by at night, but he’s concerned the law will become a vehicle for rangers and police to stop everyone or anyone who’s even a little loud. “I’m not for the noise. The small percentage that do (they) deserve a ticket, as long as it doesn’t become a revenue-making proposition that drives snowmobilers away,” he said.