According to local laws, NYC quiet hours range from 10 pm to 7 am. Failure to abide by these rules can result in hefty fines. But the noise code also has special parameters for different types of noise. Here is a helpful guide to understanding NYC quiet hours.
Construction is one of the biggest contributors to noise pollution. To help curb some of this unwanted noise, construction is limited to the hours between 7 am and 6 pm on weekdays. In addition, only certain types of construction are permitted on weekends between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm and must be at least 300 feet from a place of worship.
Any construction to be performed outside these time frames must be approved by the Department of Buildings and Transportation and requires developers to create a noise mitigation plan before starting work.
Pets are another major contributor to noise pollution. Owners must do their best to limit noise from animals, especially during quiet hours. A single bark is not a cause for complaint. But residents have the right to contact law enforcement if animal noise persists for more than ten continuous minutes during the day (7 am to 10 pm) or five straight minutes during quiet hours (10 pm to 7 am).
While a staple of NYC culture, food vending vehicles can also significantly contribute to noise pollution. For example, types of vehicles often play a jingle to attract customers. While this is permitted while the vehicle is in motion, trucks cannot play any jingle while stationary. This is meant to prevent the continuous noise from bothering workers and residents in nearby buildings.
Air conditioners are another contributor to noise pollution, especially in older units. While the use of AC is permitted during quiet hours, residents have a responsibility to ensure the unit doesn’t make too much noise. A single AC or another circulating unit must not exceed a volume of more than 42 decibels. Buildings with multiple devices must not exceed a volume of more than 45 decibels.
Live music is part of what makes New York City nightlife so popular. But venues also must be considerate of disturbances to nearby residents. According to the NYC Noise Code, music from commercial venues must not exceed 42 decibels as measured within a nearby residence. It also must not exceed 7 decibels over the ambient sound level during quiet hours, as measured on a nearby street or public area within 15 feet from the source. In addition, bass sounds must not exceed 6db above the ambient sound level to prevent nearby residents from experiencing physical discomfort from how the sound resonates.
Refuse collection is vital to keeping the streets clean and free from debris. But they can also cause all kinds of unwanted noise. During regular hours, maximum sounds levels from a refuse vehicle must not surpass 80 dB when measured at a distance of 35 feet or more. Between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am, the noise from one of these vehicles must not exceed 80dB when within 50 feet of a residential property.
NYC is known for its congested traffic, especially in Manhattan. But even motorists are expected to keep noise to a minimum to avoid disturbing local residents. The Noise Code prevents excessive noise from the muffler or exhaust pipe of a vehicle operating in an area where the speed limit is 35mph or less. Excessive noise is defined as plainly audible at a distance of 150 feet for cars and 200 feet for trucks and motorcycles. The noise code also prohibits using horns unless it’s used to warn another party of potential danger.
A violation of any of the regulations laid out in the noise code is against the law and can result in the offender being issued a fine. This fine can be anywhere from $150 to $400, depending on the severity. If you are a resident who has been disturbed or disrupted by a violation of the noise code, you have the right to file a complaint.
If the noise may be related to the commission of a crime, such as fighting, screaming, gunshots, explosions, large, potentially dangerous crowds, or the suspicious breaking of glass or wood, you should call 911. If it’s something less threatening but still disruptive, you can call 311 or file a noise complaint online.
To file a complaint online visit www1.nyc.gov and choose noise from the front page. There, you will select the type of disturbance and find instructions on how to file a complaint. Or you can simply call 311, and they will direct your complaint to the appropriate agency.