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Noise Violation

Noise violations on college campuses

By February 3, 2020September 25th, 2023No Comments

Campus parties are as synonymous with college life as cacti are to the desert. But what many students fail to realize is that loud parties in your dorm room can lead to disciplinary action the same way that underage drinking and cheating can. 

In Washington, D.C., excessive noise is defined as any amount of unreasonably loud noise that is likely to annoy or disturb one or more persons in their residence. This is typically above 60 decibels during the day and 55 decibels between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. If you get cited by city police for noise violations, you could be fined up to $500 and spend up to 90 days in jail. 

Did you know that college campuses don’t usually include time frames when laying out noise regulations? This means that you can get in trouble for excessive noise at any time of day, though it’s different than receiving a “ticket” for violating the city’s noise ordinance. 

Although you can get in trouble for excessive noise any time of day, it’s a more severe offense if it happens during your college or university’s “quiet hours,” which typically start at 9 p.m. or a little later if it’s the weekend. 

How loud is 55 decibels? For comparison, here’s a breakdown of various activities and their noise levels: 

  • Leaves rustling: 30 decibels
  • Average home noise: 40 decibels
  • Normal conversation with background music: 60 decibels
  • Vacuum cleaner: 75 decibels
  • Rock concert: 120-129 decibels (sounds above 85 decibels are harmful to your hearing)

What does all of this mean? It means that anything louder than a quiet conversation can technically land you in trouble on a college campus.  


What if you live off-campus? 

You can also face discipline from your college or university if you get in trouble for noise violations off-campus. Consequences could include charges of disorderly conduct, fines, loss of housing and more. 


What if you weren’t the one being loud in your dorm or off-campus housing? 

Even if it was your roommate playing music too loud or screaming at the top of their lungs, you can still get in trouble for excessive noise just for being in the house. If you are not home when the noise violation happens, you may not get in trouble personally, but your house could still get sanctioned, which puts you at greater risk for losing housing as a result of excessive noise complaints. 

Excessive noise violations are more serious than they appear on the surface. If you or your son or daughter is facing a noise violation at a college or university, you need an attorney like Shanlon Wu who specializes in campus defense. Contact his office today for help. 

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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