Under the bill, New Jersey municipalities could seize and even destroy "boom cars," which bother residents with loud music and bass.
SOUTH JERSEY — Legislation to regulate "boom car parties," the loud, music-playing events that have been disrupting the lives of many South Jersey residents since at least 2017, is before the state Senate.
Senators Nilsa Cruz-Perez, James Beach, and Troy Singleton, all Democrats, introduced their bill against nuisance motor vehicles on Sept. 22 as their constituents continue dealing with car speakers thumping music across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.
The bill (S-3047) defines a "nuisance vehicle" as a vehicle with an internal sound system, causing noise to be "plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet or more from the motor vehicle." Under the bill, New Jersey municipalities could seize and even destroy nuisance vehicles, under certain circumstances.
On a first offense, the vehicle would be impounded for at least 7 days, a news release said. A second offense would bring a $750 fee, and the vehicle would be in impound for at least 14 days. Unclaimed cars could be put up for auction after 30 days.
“The love for music is one thing most people share in common, including myself," said Cruz-Perez (Camden/Gloucester). "However, drivers must have regard for the people and communities around them who may be affected by blaring sound systems. The bill would ensure that neighborhood residents are protected against these roaring vehicles.”
Police departments on both sides of the river have been increasing efforts to stop the loud parties, which disturb nearby residents.
Rich Calebrese, the Cinnaminson Township police chief, said he has been in contact with Philadelphia Police and that he is "hopeful that we are moving in the right direction into stopping this serious quality-of-life issue altogether."
“Driving through communities blasting loud music demonstrates a total disregard for the residents who live there,” said Beach (Burlington/Camden). “This bill would allow for drivers and passengers to enjoy music at a responsible decibel without subjecting neighborhoods to obnoxiously loud sound systems.”
The boom car issue is not unique to South Jersey and the Philadelphia area; as NJ Advance Media reports, Staten Island residents say they can hear music coming from the New Jersey waterfront at night. And in 2018, residents of Salem County reported problems with loud music coming over the river from Delaware.
“It’s no secret that “boom car” parties have negatively affected the quality of life in towns up and down the Delaware River for years," said Singleton (Burlington). "Residents, even those miles away from the Delaware River, can feel the bass vibrating their homes, which torturously keeps them awake all night long. While the majority of these parties are held in Philadelphia, we know that they also occur – albeit less frequently – in New Jersey. This legislation sends a clear message that this will not be tolerated in our state, and there will be real consequences for their actions.”
This legislation would, of course, not extend the arm of New Jersey law across the river. Philadelphia Councilmember Mark Squilla introduced a city ordinance that would ban "loud noise emanating from a motor vehicle" and allow "use of an automated system [such as decibel meters and cameras] for determining violations of that prohibition, all under certain terms and conditions."
Under Squilla's proposed ordinance, unpermitted events that contain sound that measures five decibels "above background level measured from a distance of 25 or more feet" would be subject to fines similar to those levied against those who violate the city's parking rules.