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What is the definition of a noise violation in Washington, D.C.?

In the District of Columbia, making “excessive” noise between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time for up to 90 days. It is also likely that the Metropolitan Police Department will issue a 61D citation, which is equivalent to an arrest even though it is a ticket. Excessive noise is considered a disorderly conduct crime, and thus is treated by the Metropolitan Police as such. Most universities have specific rules regarding neighborly conduct and quiet hours, both on and off campus.

What is the definition of “excessive noise”?

Washington D.C. laws define excessive noise as any amount of unreasonably loud noise that is likely to annoy or disturb one or more persons in their residence. This is typically defined as above 60 decibels during the day and 55 decibels between the hours of 10:00  PM and 7:00 AM.

Can I receive a noise violation if I am making “excessive noise” not between the hours of 10:00  PM and 7:00 AM?

While it is unlikely that you will receive a noise citation from the Metropolitan Police Department, universities typically have policies that are not time restrictive. Universities will act upon any excessive noise regardless of time of day if they deem the noise to infringe upon the community’s peace and quiet. Universities and colleges also consider off-campus excessive noise immediately as disorderly conduct.

Can I be charged with a Noise Complaint Violation from my college or university if I live off-campus?

Noise violations are often multi-jurisdictional in D.C. involving both the university and Metro Police. Noise violations occurring on and off campus consistently result in charges of disorderly conduct, student disciplinary proceedings, fines and loss of housing. For off-campus incidents, if sound can be heard beyond a property line, it is probably too noisy and disturbing to the community, depending on the time and the nature of the activity generating the sound.

Though noise violations may not seem as serious as other violations, consequences are still harsh, and can impact disciplinary standings and scholarships. DC Student Defense attorneys have the expertise and experience needed to negotiate with all parties and will work to significantly reduce and eliminate the consequences of an excessive noise violation.

Who in my house, dorm, or apartment is in trouble if there is a noise violation? Can I get in trouble for a noise complaint if my roommate is having a party and I am not home?

Everyone who lives in the house, dorm or apartment can be held responsible for a noise violation.  If you are not at home when the citation is issued, you might not get in trouble personally but your house could be sanctioned which will affect you.

What is my university’s definition of “quiet hours”? What are the consequences for disrupting “quiet hours”?

While students are expected to be mindful of their noise levels at all times during the day, students are expected to be especially quiet during “Quiet Hours.” Quiet hours in dorms and on-campus housing include most weeknights after 9:00 PM, weekends at a later time typically, and the entire time period before examinations. Violation of these “quiet hours” can result in a report by the Residential Advisor and may lead to a disciplinary hearing and sanctions.

What should I do if I get a notice of conduct code violation for a noise violation?

If you receive a conduct code violation, the best thing to do is to contact a student defense attorney to assist you with understanding your rights in a student disciplinary hearing and protecting your education throughout the process.

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