In order to promote the public health, safety and welfare as well as the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of Prince William County, officers adhere to the provisions of Chapter 14 of the Prince William County Code when determining noise violations and appropriate enforcement action.
Violations of Chapter 14 are considered Class 2 Misdemeanors.
Because noise at certain levels can be harmful to the health and welfare of citizens, Prince William County prohibits excessive and annoying noise. The County Code regulates specific times that certain noise sources can be operated, and defines noise limits.
Events or actions may be prohibited if they cause a noise disturbance, including continuously barking dogs, noisy construction equipment, horns and signaling devices not being used for danger warnings, radios and TV sets, and engine repair and testing.
If you suspect the County’s noise ordinance is being violated, contact the Police Department by calling the non-emergency line at 703-792-6500.
Officers responding to noise complaints in neighborhoods will confirm the noise is in violation and attempt to identify the owner or lessee of the property. Absent an owner or lessee, the officer will identify the responsible party creating the disturbance. Typically, a verbal warning for compliance is requested on the first complaint.
A subsequent complaint will confirm the violation is continuing. A summons may be issued to the responsible party. If the responsible party agrees to end the gathering and all participants leave, the responsible party will be released on a summons. Officers will standby under the gathering is dispersed. Any participant refusing to comply may be charged with a violation of trespassing or loitering.
If the responsible party refuses to end the gathering, they may be physically arrested and transported to the magistrate's office.
Additional violations may be charged depending on the situation.
Note: The complainant of the noise violation may be needed as a witness for any court proceedings.
Commercial establishments, particularly those in the entertainment business, should be aware of the appropriate noise level allowed under the law and adhere to the requirements. Therefore, the first complaint involving a commercial establishment may not result in a warning and, absent extenuating circumstances, charges may be placed.
All other provisions noted in Residential Complaints above also apply to commercial noise complaints.
Noise complaints are typically considered low priority calls. An officer will respond when available but their response may be delayed if other higher priority calls are active.
Yes; however, this may limit the officers in their enforcement. If the noise can only be heard inside your dwelling or on your property, the officer may need access in order to witness the violation and take enforcement action. Your cooperation may also be needed if the matter were to go to court.
Violations are typically viewed within a 24hour period. Meaning if someone received a warning one day, their count will restart the following day.
If the vehicle is idling in a residential area, residents can call the non-emergency line to report the matter; however, effective March 1, 2021, state law changed prohibiting officers from stopping a vehicle solely based on a loud or altered exhaust as a primary offense. If the vehicle is stopped for another violation, and the loud or altered exhaust is observed, the officer can cite the driver; however, it should be noted that this does not immediately remedy the noise.
Considering the answers to the above questions, and based on the noise ordinance and complaint explanations on this page, if you feel your complaint was not properly handled by officers, you can contact the non-emergency line and request a supervisor make contact with you to speak about the matter.
For more information, please contact the Public Information Office by calling 703-792-5123 or email.