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Boating Noise Limit Regulations By State

Last Updated February 2005

SAE J34: The most precise measurement available, taken of a boat at a distance of 50 ft. with wide-open throttle (the near maximum noise of the boat). Although great for engineering standards, it is difficult for enforcement purposes in the field. The Coast Guard recommends 86 decibels (dBA), which most states have adopted as law.

SAE J2005: This measures the engine sound at idle with the microphone 1.5 m away. SAE recommends a limit of 90dbA for this method, which does not account for the speed or power of the boat.

SAE J1970: In realizing the enforcement difficulties of the previous methods, SAE designed this shoreline noise test enabling regulations keeping the boat under 75 dBA at 50 ft. by operation, not mechanics. The operator is responsible for controlling the noise of the boat.

Sound energy dissipates with distance, other sound and wind. A comprehensive study on sound with motorboats (but not including PWC) found that sound dissipates up to 9.9dBA when the boat travels from 50 ft to 200 ft away (4.8 dBA reduction from 50 to 100 ft, additional 5.1 dBA reduction from 100 to 200 ft.).

Both the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) have Model Noise Acts, which our manufacturers follow as NMMA members. These requirements are in compliance with the SAE recommended dBA standards. NASBLA requires 88 dBA under SAE J2005, and 75 dBA under SAE J1970. NMMA recommends 90 dBA under SAE J2005. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that 75 dBA at 50 feet is an acceptable noise level to protect public health and welfare.
 

STATE MAX DB LIMIT MUFFLERS REQ'D SWITCHABLE LEGAL PENALTY/FINE
Alabama 86 dB @ 50 Ft. Yes No Misdemeanor/Minimum $50
Outdoor Alabama District 1 Headquarters, 888-903-7659
Alaska N/A No Yes N/A
Alaska Office of Boating Safety, 907-269-8705
Arizona 86 dB @ 50 Ft. Yes Yes Petty offense/Minimum $55
Arizona Game and Fish Department, 602-789-3235
Arkansas Not Measured Strongly Recommended N/A N/A
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, 800-364-4263
California 90 dB if mfg. prior to 1993, 88 dB if mfg. after 1993 Yes Not Specified Infraction/Minimum $60, Maximum $250
California Dept. of Boating and Waterways, 916-263-1331
Colorado 86 dB @ 50 Ft. Yes Yes Petty Offense/Minimum $50
Colorado State Parks Administrative Office, 303-866-3437
Connecticut 90 dB if mfg. before 1993, 88 if mfg. after 1993 Yes No Violation/Minimum $100, Maximum $500
Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection, Boating Division, 860-434-8638
Delaware None No Yes N/A
Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement, 302-739-3486
Florida 90 dB @ 50 Ft. Yes No Not Specified
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation, 850-488-5600
Georgia None Yes No N/A
Wildlife Resources Division, 912-685-2145
Hawaii N/A Yes N/A N/A
Division of Boating & Recreation, 808-587-1966
Idaho 90 dB if mfg. before 1995, 88 dB if mfg. after 1995 measured using stationary test, 75 dB measured at 500 Ft. Yes No Infraction/Maximum $100
Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation, 208-334-4199
Illinois 90 dB using stationary test or 75 dB moving Yes N/A Misdemeanor/Minimum $1500 and/or 6 months in jail, Maximum $2500 and/or up to 1 year in jail
Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources, 217-782-6302
Indiana N/A Yes No Class C Infraction/Maximum $500
Natural Resources Commission, 317-232-4699
Iowa 86 dB @ 50 Ft. Yes No Misdemeanor/Minimum $10, Maximum $100
Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, 515-281-5918
Kansas N/A N/A N/A N/A
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, 620-672-5911
Kentucky N/A Yes N/A Minimum $50
Kentucky Department of fish & Wildlife, 800-858-1549
Louisiana N/A Yes No dry pipes Violation/Minimum $50, Maximum $150
Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries & boating, 225-765-2989
Maine 90 dB using stationary test, 75 dB using offshore test Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $1000
Contact Not Specified
Maryland 90 dB Yes Not Specified Misdemeanor/Maximum $500
Natural Resources Police, Safety Education Division, 410-260-3280
Massachusetts N/A Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $100
Boat & Recreation Bureau, 617-727-8760
Michigan 90 dB measured at 3 Ft., and 75 dB measured onshore Yes N/A Misdemeanor/Maximum $500
Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Office, 517-373-1230
Minnesota 86 dB using stationary test if mfg. before 1982, 84 dB using stationary test if mfg. after 1982, 84 dB measured at 50 feet while moving if mfg. before 1982, 82 dB measured at 50 feet while moving if mfg. after 1982 Yes No Not Specified
Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, 651-296-6157
Mississippi 86 dB measured at 50 feet Yes Not Specified Misdemeanor/Minimum $50, Maximum $100
Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks
Missouri 90 dB if mfg. after 1996 using stationary test or 86 dB when measured at 50 feet Yes Not Specified Not specified
Missouri State Water Patrol, 573-751-3333
Montana 90 dB measured at 1 meter from mufflers at idle or 86 dB measured at 50 feet at speed, in flathead and Lake Counties the limit is 75 dB when measured from the shoreline Yes N/A Misdemeanor/Maximum $500
Montana fish, Wildlife and Parks, 406-444-2452
Nebraska N/A Yes N/A N/a
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, 402-471-0641
Nevada 86 dB measured at 50 feet as defined by the SAE J-34 test or 90 dB using a stationary test as defined by SAE J-2005 test for boats mfg. before 1993, or 88 dB for boats mfg. after 1993 Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $100 and/or 6 months in jail
Nevada Division of Wildlife, 775-688-1500
New Hampshire 86 dB measured at 50 feet for any boat mfg. before 1978, 84 dB for boats mfg. between 1978 and 1981, 82 dB for any boat mfg. after 1981 Yes No Violation/Minimum $100
New Hampshire Dept. of Safety, 800-735-2964
New Jersey 90 dB measured at idle Yes No Boating Offense/Minimum $100, Maximum $500
New Jersey State Police Marine Services Unit, 609-882-2000 ext. 6170,6173, or 6181
New Mexico N/A Yes N/A Misdemeanor/Maximum $500
New Mexico State Parks, 888-667-2757
New York 90 dB using J-2005 stationary test, 75 dB using shoreline test Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $50
New York State Parks, 518-474-0456
North Carolina N/A Yes on all boats capable of operating at more than 4,000 rpm and with open air exhaust systems N/A N/A
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Enforcement Division, 919-662-4381
North Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A
No contact specified
Ohio 90 dB as measured using J-2005 test, and 75 db as measured using J-1970 test Yes No Not specified
Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft, 614-265-6480
Oklahoma 90 dB using J-2005 test, 75 dB using J-1970 test Yes No N/A
Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Lake Patrol Troop W, 918-847-2001
Oregon N/A Yes Not specified Class B Violation/Minimum $237
Oregon State Marine Board, 503-378-8587
Pennsylvania N/A Yes No N/A
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, 717-705-7800
Rhode Island Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified
Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management, Law Enforcement, 401-222-2284
South Carolina N/A Yes N/A Misdemeanor/Minimum $50, Maximum $200
South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources, 800-922-5431
South Dakota N/A Yes N/A N/A
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, 605-773-3391
Tennessee 86 dB measured 50 feet from boat Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $250
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, 615-781-6682
Texas N/A Yes N/A Misdemeanor/Minimum $25, Maximum $500
Texas Parks and Wildlife, 800-262-8755
Utah 90 dB as measured by J-2005 for boats mfg. before 1993 and 88 dB for boats mfg. after 1993, 75 dB for all boats as measured by J-1970 Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $1,000
Utah Dept. of Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation, 801-538-7220
Vermont 82 dB measured at 50 feet Yes No Violation/Maximum $300
Vermont State Police, Marine Division, 802-878-7111
Virginia N/A Yes No Misdemeanor/Maximum $200
Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement, 804-367-1258
Washington 90 dB for boats mfg. before 1993 adn 88 dB for boats mfg. after 1993 measured using J-2005 stationary test, 75 dB for all boats measured using J-1970 shoreline test Yes No Infraction/Minimum $75
Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission, 360-586-6592
Washington D.C. N/A Yes Yes Violation/Maximum $50
Metropolitan Police Dept., Harbor Patrol, 202-727-4582
West Virginia N/A Yes Yes Misdemeanor/Maximum $300
West Virginia Dept. of Natural Resources, 304-558-3380
Wisconsin 86 dB measured at 50 feet Yes No N/A
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division, 608-266-2141
Wyoming N/A Yes No N/A
Wyoming Game & Fish, 307-777-4600