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You might see the sign Jake Braking Prohibited, No Jake Brakes within City Limits, or No Engine Braking within City Limits in your travels across California. If you’re ever beside a big rig when they use their engine brakes, you’ll know why some small towns do not want the noise. It’s kind of like a machine gun or jackhammer, but this is not a moving violation.

California Noise Level Legislation = No Moving Violation

Most CA noise regulations talk about exceeding the maximum of 95 decibels (dbA) sound limit. Despite recent changes to CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 27151, Exhaust Systems, these are not a moving violation even when it is a modified vehicle exhaust that makes the noise.

There is now a possible $1,000 fine for a modified exhaust that violates the 95 dbA, but there is no reference to “Jake braking” or engine braking. Where the driver violates a municipal dbA regulation, there is no notification sent to the DMV, so it will not go on the driver’s record.

Furthermore, a private citizen or municipality trying to bring charges against a truck driver for a noise violation might find it difficult. Most instances of jake braking are instantaneous and temporary. Therefore, it would be difficult to record and determine the dbA level accurately.

What Is Jake Braking & What Is the Benefit?

The “jake brake” on a diesel tractor-trailer or semi is a “compression release brake” in the engine. At the top of a compression stroke, the exhaust valve opens and slows the vehicle, which causes a thunderous noise like a gun firing.

Despite the noise, it is a highly effective means of slowing the truck without using the tire brakes, which can heat up quickly. The use of an engine “brake” is particularly efficient when traveling down a long grade.

Plus, the driver can maintain better control of their vehicle while using the engine brake rather than the tire brakes that might not slow the vehicle evenly. Worn brakes or brakes out of adjustment might pull the vehicle to one side or the other.

Although using your engine brakes is not a moving violation, all CDL holders should consult with a traffic attorney when they have a moving violation, DMV NOTS Hearing, or questionable roadside inspection violation.

CMV Traffic Violations in Woodland Traffic Court

Contact Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, for assistance with alleged traffic violations that involve a moving violation. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Contact Bigger & Harman for a free initial consultation today.



The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf

The article, California Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws

CVC Section 27151, Exhaust Systems

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