In a prior post, we observed one aspect of the automobile that Kansas tries to regulate in regards to noiseemission; the muffler. Does Kansas actually have restrictions on the one automobile part that is intended to make noise? KSA 8-1738 is a statute that regulates the limitations on the car horn. This statute has minimum requirements of needing an automobile horn that is in working order and can emit a sound that can be heard up to 200 feet away under normal conditions. Also, however, the statute does state the horn shall not be “unreasonably loud” or emit a “harsh sound or whistle.”
For prosecutors, we again see another discretionary statute left up to the Court to decide what sound might be reasonable. I do not believe there would be much argument on whether the horn was working or not, but there could be debate about a custom horn that could be too loud or emit a “harsh noise.” This would leave some discretion in an argument and does not fall under the strict liability situation most prosecutors desire.
For the defense, arguments on the loudness or type of horn could be made as to what is “unreasaonable.” I believe that a Court might determine that a “little loud” is likely better than a “little soft” for safety, so it seems a borderline case could fall a bit more towards the defense.
Legislators clearly want to ensure that all vehicles have a working horn for safety. They also seem to want to consider a general nuisance issue in making sure the sound is not too loud or piercing as well. Does your state have any other limitations on the car horn?
Until next time, drive safe!