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Ask Policeman Dan: Are there laws against spewing clouds of black diesel smoke?
Ask Policeman Dan

Ask Policeman Dan: Are there laws against spewing clouds of black diesel smoke?

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Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Q: Are there any laws in Idaho about pickup trucks that spew huge clouds of black diesel smoke from rear-mounted pipes when they accelerate? I see these jerks often around the Magic Valley and they seem to take a perverse pleasure in making other people choke and gag on their exhaust. — Kevin

A: If a pickup is 18 years or older (maybe 21 in some states) then it is perfectly legal for it to smoke but the surgeon general does warn that smoking can lead to several health issues. Alright so it was not one of my best jokes, but you have to admit it wasn’t one of my worst.

Vehicles are not allowed to modify exhausts in any vehicle that create louder noises or smoke issues. Idaho code 49-937 reads: “Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise and annoying smoke, and no person shall use a muffler cut-out, bypass, or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a highway. When any motor vehicle was originally equipped with a noise suppressing system or when any motor vehicle is required by law or regulation of this state or the federal government to have a noise suppressing system, that system shall be maintained in good working order. No person shall disconnect any part of that system except temporarily in order to make repairs, replacements or adjustments, and no person shall modify or alter that system or its operation in any manner, except to conform to the manufacturer’s specifications.”

That means that if the pickup has a muffler modified to smoke as you have said then it would be a citable offense. The issue here as well is that the modification has to be known about as well. The code also reads: “No person shall knowingly operate and no owner shall knowingly cause or permit to be operated any motor vehicle originally equipped or required by any law or regulation of the state or the federal government to be equipped with a noise suppressing system while any part of that system is disconnected or while that system or its operation is modified or altered in any manner, except to conform to the manufacturer’s specifications.”

Idaho code 49-937(2) states that “the engine and power mechanism of every motor vehicle shall be so equipped and adjusted as to prevent the escape of excessive fumes or smoke.” I would say that in my opinion that would mean whether the muffler was factory or not if the exhaust causes smoke to be released then a person could be cited under this code. I would also say that unless a vehicle was smoking all the way down the road then being stopped is not likely going to happen if the police did not see it.

Officer down

Please put these officers, killed in the line of duty, and their families in your prayers. They fought the good fight, now may they rest in peace. God bless these heroes.

  • Sergeant John Burright, Oregon State Police
  • Detective Luca Benedetti, San Luis Obispo Police, California
  • Deputy Sheriff Samuel Alexander Leonard, Concho County Sheriff, Texas
  • Deputy Sheriff Stephen Jones, Concho County Sheriff, Texas
  • Police Officer Jimmy Inn, Stockton Police, California

Have a question for Policeman Dan? Email your questions to policemandan@cableone.net or look for Ask Policemandan on Facebook and click the like button. Mail to: Box 147, Heyburn, Idaho,83336.

Dan Bristol is the City of Heyburn chief of police.

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