Who decides who is being noisy? DC recently amended its anti-noise laws to specify that:
“It is unlawful to make an unreasonably loud noise between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. that is likely to annoy or disturb one or more other persons in their residences.” D.C. Code § 22-1321(d)(2013).
This makes police the “first deciders” of what is too much noise.
The reactions of area college students reflect the correct understanding that these kinds of laws give the police the power to define “unreasonably loud” – a power that obviously will get wielded in a non-uniform manner depending on who is responding to the complaint. (see GW Hatchet, Georgetown Patch and Washington Times)
But the power really lies in the hands of who is complaining: neighbors.
So introduce yourself to your neighbors and befriend them! It’s human nature that people are much less likely to call the police on people they know and with whom they are friendly with than strangers.
It might seem silly (and you might feel too busy) but:
- Stop by to say hi.
- Tell them where you are from/what you are studying
- Ask them what they do!
- Bring them a little gift like some cookies (buy the cookies if you can’t bake)
- Warn them in advance if there is going to be a party and ask them to let you know if it gets too loud.
All this will make neighbors want to be your neighbors instead of your noise police.
And, ideally, it will make you and your friends the first responders and the first deciders on noise, not the police.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.