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 under that name. 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.
-Important Note: According to the Texas D.O.C. statute noise is presumed to be unreasonable when exceeding 85 decibels after the noise maker receives notice from a magistrate or peace officer that the noise is a public nuisance.
How Loud is 85 Decibels?
The decibel level of noise is going to be relative. So here are some examples:
|Risk of Losing Hearing
|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.
Here is a link to Decibel Meters on amazon- Decibel Meters. A decibel meter can be handy to prove a noise violation or disprove a noise violation.
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.
DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:
5) makes unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code, or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;
(1) an act is deemed to occur in a public place or near a private residence if it produces its offensive or proscribed consequences in the public place or near a private residence; and
(2) a noise is presumed to be unreasonable if the noise exceeds a decibel level of 85 after the person making the noise receives notice from a magistrate or peace officer that the noise is a public nuisance.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
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.
If your city is a Home Rule Municipality then it is permitted to pass ordinances. A home rule city may do anything authorized by its charter that is not specifically prohibited or preempted by the Texas Constitution or state or federal law.
Texas Local Government Code 217 allows Type A general law municipalities to enforce certain laws allowed by statute such as Code 217 as follows:
Sec. 217.003. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) The governing body of the municipality may prevent and may punish a person engaging in:
(1) trespass or breach of the peace;
(2) assault, battery, fighting, or quarreling;
(3) use of abusive, obscene, profane, or insulting language; or
(4) other disorderly conduct.
(b) The governing body may suppress or prevent any riot, affray, NOISE, disturbance, or disorderly assembly in any public or private place in the municipality.
(c) The governing body may restrain or prohibit the firing of firecrackers or guns, the use of a bicycle or similar conveyance, the use of a firework or similar material, or any other amusement or practice tending to annoy persons passing on a street or sidewalk.
(d) The governing body may restrain or prohibit the ringing of bells, blowing of horns, hawking of goods, or any other noise, practice, or performance directed to persons on a street or sidewalk by an auctioneer or other person for the purpose of business, amusement, or otherwise.
A type A general law municipality has no charter and may only exercise those powers that are specifically granted or implied by statute.
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 another’s separately owned property. When measured from separate ownership property, the noise cannot exceed 85 decibels for entertainment zoned property.
For more information take a look at my San Antonio Noise Ordinance blog post.
HOA Noise Violation
If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA there may be a noise warning in it. See below for an example of an HOA noise violation section of a real HOA agreement.
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.
Here is a link to our page for you to download a petition for a Justice of the Peace smalls claims lawsuit petition.
It will be best to make that the last resort. It it will look better in court by attempting to contact the offending party first and asking them to turn down the music. Mailing a certified letter with specifics can either help stop the noise nuisance or it will help in court that you tried to settle this case pre-lawsuit. But sometimes asking just does not work.
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.
You can check out and buy a decibel meter at this following link in amazon- Decibel Meters for purchase.
Noise violations can be expensive monetarily and emotionally. 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. However, sometimes court is the only solution.
Where there is no successful compromise the time arrives for law enforcement or the HOA to get involved and begin writing warnings and tickets.