Hawaii Drops Car Audio Ban For Now

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Honolulu - A Hawaii state legislative committee has "indefinitely deferred" a proposal to ban the installation and ownership of aftermarket car stereo systems with speakers of more than 6.5 inches in height or depth, with five or more speakers, and with speakers rated at more than 100 watts.

 The House assembly transportation committee doesn't expect to hold any more hearings on the topic, which was introduced to assuage residents annoyed by loud car audio systems. The legislature's current session ends Feb 18.

 More than 200 people, including dealers, came out to oppose the measure, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

 "The proposed legislation would have negatively impacted Hawaiian businesses and eliminated jobs just as the state is emerging from the worst recession in recent memory," said Michael Petricone, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) government affairs senior VP. "It also would have cost the state significant tax revenues generated through the sale and installation of aftermarket speakers and subwoofers."

CEA "supports the responsible use of consumer electronics in a safe listening environment," he continued. "As Hawaii properly recognized, enforcement of existing noise-ordinance statutes is preferable to banning an entire class of legal technology products."

Said Kenwood senior VP Keith Lehmann: "What a relief."

The House hasn't scheduled hearings yet on another bill that would ban the installation of car security systems that emit an audible sound beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Current owners of sound-emitting security systems would also have to disable their existing alarms. With the legislative session ending later this month, however, it doesn't seem likely the proposal will come up for a vote in the current session.

 The bill would also fine owners up to $100 if their car security systems emit a sound "for any period." Fines would go up to $240 for a fourth offense in five years and up to $500 for a sixth offense in five years.

 The controversies harken back to the 1980s and 1990s when multiple states and municipalities considered proposals, which subsequently failed, to limit the types of car audio products that could be installed to reduce noise levels in neighborhoods. The first such effort occurred in Jersey City, N.J.

New York City also considered regulating the sale and use of car alarms in the 1990s.

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