Cool cars and boss bikes flock to the Woodward corridor during warmer months, often creating a racket of revved engines and squealing tires.

Cool cars and boss bikes flock to the Woodward corridor during warmer months, often creating a racket of revved engines and squealing tires.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Drivers: Quiet your engines

Police ramp up patrols on Woodward to keep motors muffled

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 3, 2021


BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Chief Noel Clason doesn’t need to look at the calendar to determine when spring has sprung.

He knows winter is over as soon as the calls start coming in — residents complaining about the burnouts, revving engines and overall excessive level of noise coming from the Woodward corridor.

“This is sort of on the list of hot items the community is concerned about every year. It has come up at commission meetings the last few summers,” Clason said. “As far back as I can remember, which is 20-plus years, Woodward is inherently loud.”

From motorcycles and cars, classic and concept, to weekend warriors meeting along the main drag to admire each other’s rides, Woodward is a busy spot for motor heads. That’s nothing new, and neither is the noise.

But enough is enough, according to Clason, who said he met recently with Birmingham Police Chief Mark Clemence and representatives from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police to develop a kind of “Axis of Enforcement” and tamp down the seasonal sound influx.

“We’re stepping up enforcement, which we’ve been doing since March. The motorcycles and cars with a modified exhaust — you can have it, but when you step on it hard and disturb the police, we’re going to enforce it,” Clason said.

By “it,” Clason means the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code. The legislation states that vehicle exhausts should be in good working order while on roads, and if the car model’s original design included a tailpipe and resonator, then by law, that car needs to have a tailpipe and a resonator while in use. The same goes for a muffler: All vehicles by law need to have a muffler in proper working order. No cutouts or bypasses.

But the legislation is still relatively vague and leaves law enforcement without many options to keep road noise in check.

“I don’t think the loud exhaust ordinance in the state code has been updated (since) the 1970s, and local ordinances can’t be (created) above and beyond the state code,” Clason explained. “Chief Clemence sort of spearheaded a request to Sen. (Mallory) McMorrow to update the legislation. I’m in support of that.”

McMorrow could not be reached for comment before press time.

For now, the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department, the Birmingham Police Department, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police have all agreed to step up enforcement for the laws already on the books. If your vehicle’s exhaust or muffler isn’t up to code and you punch it to create a ruckus on the corridor, they’re going to issue you a ticket. As of April 8, the department had issued over 85 noise-specific violations in the areas of concern during peak night and weekend hours.

So far, the plan has been working, Clason said, noting a “substantial decrease” in resident complaints.

“My problem is unique from Birmingham or the township. Birmingham has a lot of the car clubs meetings, doing doughnuts in parking structures and that kind of thing. I’m just dealing with speeders and drag racers,” he said. “But the enforcement has been very effective. Before, our stops were one after the other. I think word is getting out because we’ve seen a huge reduction in infractions.”

In Bloomfield Hills, Clason said there hasn’t been a need to increase overtime to get the job done. Birmingham Cmdr. Scott Grewe has, though, and they’re seeing results, too.

“For the past several weekends, and going forward, we’ll have dedicated patrols on Woodward during peak times. Officers on overtime have been assigned to patrol Woodward for any and all violations,” Grewe said in an email. “Through an increased presence, our goal is to deter illegal behavior and issue violations to those who violate the law.”