Police to crack down on noise with new law

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Lt. John Hedgecock announces a new noise enforcement law at the Georgetown ANC Meeting
Lt. John Hedgecock announces a new noise enforcement law at the Georgetown ANC Meeting

The Metropolitan Police Department will increase enforcement of noise violations starting in the early hours of Tuesday using a new law under which MPD officers may arrest violators based on whether noise is "likely to annoy" neighbors or is observable by police called to the scene, according to Lt. John Hedgecock, who spoke at the Georgetown ANC meeting Monday. "We plan on using this law effective tonight at midnight," said Hedgecock. Officers may use the law against a loud street musician, house party, car stereo and other disturbances, Hedgecock said.

The law makes it unlawful "for a person to make an ureasonable loud noise between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am that is likely to annoy or disturb one or more persons in their residences." Police may arrest violators on site, using handcuffs and other measures. Violators will face misdeameanor charges, a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Asked if police would step up enforcement of noisy revelers leaving Georgetown bars at night, Hedgecock replied, "Absolutely." He said police would be especially vigilant along Prospect, N and O Streets. One Georgetown resident said, "The music in the house next door to mine is 24/7. Do you have to hear the throbbing in my house?" Hedgecock said officers could use their discretion to detect "observable" noise from anywhere near the source and make arrests accordingly.

ANC Commissioner Bill Starrels said the new law and stepped up enforcement was a win for D.C. neighborhoods city-wide. "This is a huge tool for the police. Before, it was just tougher to enforce the laws. This [new law] should result in a better quality of life for residents across the city," he said.

Previously, police had limited or no power to control ear-piercing car stereo systems and other environmental noise in residential and commercial areas. That will now change, police said.

The law was not just aimed at Georgetown, Hedgecock said. But, he said, "I get that question a lot."


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Is there a copy of the law available? A cite?


Thank you MPD!


I, too, love peace and quiet; but tolerance and intolerance can work both ways. It's too bad that overly noisy, drinking students can cause the city to have to extend police powers. When I think about it, we place the policeman in the position of judge and jury with this law. That's the downside. Just as many parents don't take responsibility re their children's behavior, students are failing to control themselves vis-a-vis noise to the extent that the lawmakers have to step in. What happened to being a good member of the community? GET THIS! I just had a conversation with my 91-year-old cousin in Florida. His frail, almost totally out of it, wife "threatened" a home health care person and was arrested, hand-cuffed and put in jail for 6 hours. My cousin was amused and very good natured about it. Nevertheless, I see it as a failure on the part of the person who pressed charges--a medical person in the business of dealing with very old, powerless people. We have to be careful of solving one unpleasant problem only to create another Thanks for listening.


This law is clearly a violation of the first amendment (even if only on the grounds that it is unconstitutionally broad). Doubt this? See what happened to VA Beach's noise law. I give it about a month before the police bust a house full of law students who will challange it.


This law doesn't stand a chance vs the first cited person to challenge it in court. Will be gone soon enough.


This law provides way too much power for the police officer. I live in the gtown area and have an angry neighbor who calls the police all the time. We had the police come to the door at 3:00 on a Saturday because of "noise." This same guy has cursed me out in front of the police before and he is the exact person that can get the police to arrest someone for a noise violation. I must say that half the cops that come to the door are cool and understand that it is an angry neighbor calling the cops. However, the rest of the time, power hungry cops come to the door and threaten to arrest us because it is too loud which happened when we had 2 friends over sitting on the front porch.

The law is probably too broad to be constitutional but it will take time for someone who has the time and money to challenge it after a cop eventually goes too far.


As a resident with two children (ages 5 and 8), the nightly ordeal of groups of people walking down residential Georgetown streets, cursing and using the f word at the top of their voices at two in the morning, has really gotten worse over the last few years. The University is a great thing for the community and we are happy to have it. But the students can be very oblivious and inconsiderate to residents and families who also have a right to live here with some expectation of peace and quiet. And a little awareness of others.