Is There a Texas State Law Noise Ordinance?
State law and an ordinance are 2 different things. The ordinances in a particular city are different than a law governed by the state statutes.
Does a state law noise ordinance exist? No, it does not an ordinance is local city law. Many cities have passed their own noise ordinances regarding noise level during certain times of the day within their city limits. The only Texas state law covering noise is Disorderly Conduct. It protects against unreasonable noise exceeding 85 decibels following being warned by a magistrate or peace officer.
How Loud is 85 Decibels?
The decibel level of noise is going to be relative. So here are some examples:
|Risk of Losing Hearing|
|85||Heavy city traffic, school cafeteria, vacuum cleaner|
The higher the level the shorter the amount of time a person can endure the noise before hearing loss sets in.
If I live Outside the City Limits Can I Report Loud Music?
If you live outside the city limits in Texas you can report loud music. The Texas disorderly conduct statute punishes the person making unreasonable noise in or near a private residence that they have no right to occupy.
How Do I Find Out my Noise Complaint Laws?
If you are in a city there is a good chance the city has adopted a code of ordinances. Many cities have their ordinances online and can be viewed on the city’s website. If you live in an unincorporated area of Texas there will not be a city ordinance to cover you. The only relief will be from the disorderly conduct statute about unreasonable noise that was discussed above.
What is the Austin Noise Ordinance?
Part of the noise ordinance says a person may not make noise or play a musical instrument audible to an adjacent business or residence between 10:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Other parts of the ordinance cover required permits. Also a person may not operate sound equipment at a business that produces sound: (1) in excess of 85 decibels between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., as measured at the property line of the business; or (2) is audible at the property line of the business between 2:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
In Austin, if there is a loud party causing problems the immediate matter can be referred to police by calling 311. Or if it can wait, a call can be made to a district representative. A district representative is a liaison between a police regional command and the community.
The residential area ordinances dealing with sound equipment are as follows:
A person may not use sound equipment that produces sound audible beyond the property line of a residence in a residential area between 10:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.
A person may not use sound equipment audible beyond the property line of a residence in a residential area that produces sound in excess of 75 decibels.
What is the Houston Noise Ordinance?
The Houston City Ordinance limits the level of noise by
(1) Residential property:
a. 65 dB during daytime hours.
b. 58 dB during nighttime hours.
(2) Nonresidential property:
68 dB at all times.
Daytime hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Houston ordinance penalizes up to $1,000 per offense or per hour. It can get pricey.
San Antonio Noise Ordinance
The San Antonio noise ordinance can be very pricey. If it is found that someone recklessly is in violation of the ordinance the fine can range up to $2,000.
A person is in violation of the ordinance if their noise exceeds 63 decibels on residential property measured from anothers separately owned property. When measured from separate ownership property, the noise cannot exceed 85 decibels for entertainment zoned property
Some of the problems related to noise pollution include stress, loss of productivity, and decreased concentration.
The subject of noise pollution is recognized as such an important topic that the EPA talks about it:
“Noise pollution adversely affects the lives of millions of people. Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health. Problems related to noise include stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is the most common and often discussed health effect, but research has shown that exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health effects.”
Though the EPA recognized that is an important issue, in 1981 President Reagan decided that it was best handled at the state and local level and closed the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC).
Can I file a lawsuit against someone who is making too much noise?
Yes, you can file a lawsuit for damages. It will be best to make that the last resort. By attempting to contact the offending party first and asking them to turn the music down it will look better in court.
Where should I measure the noise from?
In most cases, it is preferable to get a decibel meter and measure from the edge of your property next to where the noise is originating.
Noise violations can be expensive. It is easier for the parties to come to an agreement before taking the situation to court. Courtesy between neighbors with regard to loud music is the best route.