A lot of residents in the Lineberry area have questions about noise violations and nuisance parties. I will try to clarify some of these questions based on the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years. First, I’d start by saying that having a quiet and peaceful neighborhood is a right that each neighbor has; violating this right impacts our quality of life. Second, I’ll cover the basics about prohibited noises and nuisance parties, what actions you can take, and frequently asked questions with some answers to help you. Feedback is welcome of course, use the comments section of the blog to post any additional questions.
About my approach
I used several different sources for this article including reviewing parts of the municipal code for the City of Raleigh and consulting experts in the Raleigh Police Department (RPD). You’ll notice a few numbers that are referenced, they are Raleigh City Code (RCC) and provide the basis for the ordinance, definition of violations, enforcement, and penalties.
Sample Nuisance Ticket
The noise ordinance (RCC 12-5007) is in effect from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. (nighttime hours), local time. This covers any noise that is unreasonably loud such as amplified music, shouting, firearms, building construction, or animals (with habitual or frequent sounds like crying, howling, or barking). There is a 24-hour loud noise ordinance (RCC 12-5006), however, a police officer must receive information as to how the disturbance is specifically being a “detriment to the life or health” of the complainant. This makes it more difficult to enforce before 11 p.m.
Any nuisance party is enforceable 24×7. RCC 13-3017 defines a nuisance party as the following:
A nuisance party is a party or other social gathering conducted in the City and which, by reason of the conduct of those persons in attendance, results in any one (1) or more of the following conditions or occurrences:
- unlawful public possession or consumption of alcohol, unlawful drunken and disruptive conduct; public urination or defecation; the unlawful sale, furnishing, or consumption of alcoholic beverages;
- the unlawful deposit of trash or litter on public or private property;
- the unlawful destruction of public or private property;
- the generation of pedestrian or vehicular traffic caused by those invited to or allowed to attend which obstructs the free flow of residential traffic or interferes with the ability to provide emergency services;
- excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noise which disturbs the repose of the neighborhood;
- public disturbances, brawls, fights or quarrels;
- or any other activity resulting in conditions that annoy, injure or endanger the safety, health, comfort or repose of the neighboring residents, or results in any obscene conduct, or results in any immoral exhibition or indecent exposure by persons at the gathering.
Phew! Have you got all that? Now what can you do about it?
If your quality of life is being threatened by a noise violation or a nuisance party and you want police action, call 9-1-1. Other remedies include neighborly approaches such as contacting the property owner or notifying those in violation. Do not put yourself in any harmful situations. If you suspect the consumption of alcohol is involved, it may be in your best interest to contact 9-1-1 to not endanger yourself or provoke any unwanted actions. Additionally, contacting 9-1-1 will keep a record of any of these violations. Tip: You may want to get another neighbor to call 9-1-1 as well if you think they are being disturbed.
When you contact 9-1-1, give the communications specialist your name, address, and phone number as well as the violation type and location of the complaint. As I understand, it is not the practice of the police department to release your information to the subject you are complaining against. You can, however, request to remain anonymous. You can also request a call back from the officer after the call has been responded to.
Frequently asked questions
What happens when you call 9-1-1 to report a noise violation or nuisance party?
The communications specialist will collect the information and the complaint will then be dispatched to RPD. Both noise and party violations are priority four (P4). This means that a priority one call, such as an accident or a life-threatening situation will take precedence over a noise or party complaint. The upside though is that by September 2009, all officers will be trained on the recent amendments to the noise ordinances and nuisance party (source: Police Officers Receive Training In Housing Code Violations).
What are the penalties for a noise violation or nuisance party?
The penalties for these violations have changed as of July 2009 (source: Parties Could Get Pricey). Violators are now subject to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00). If there are more than one violation within a 12-month period, the civil penalty increases to three hundred dollars ($300). Criminal penalties (misdemeanor) can also apply if convicted.
What if I’m the only person being disturbed by a nuisance party?
The way the ordinance reads, the nuisance party must have “excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noise which disturbs the repose of the neighborhood.” Because it says neighborhood and not neighbor, it must be more than one residence being disturbed. A good rule of thumb is to walk down two houses. If you can hear the violation from more than two houses away, this in fact, is disturbing the neighborhood.
Do I need to get a neighbor to call too?
RCC 12-5006 and RCC 12-5007 both use a two complainant standard. A police officer can be one of the complainants if, when they arrive on scene, can confirm the violation. The second complainant needs to be the original subject who called 9-1-1. If a complainant calling 9-1-1 does not leave their information with emergency communications, the complainant has possibly limited the officer’s enforcement actions to a warning. Additionally, a second complainant can be another person who is being disturbed by the violation.
Is a nuisance party a two complaint standard?
RCC 13-3017 is not a two complaint standard like the noise ordinance. However, if an officer arrives on scene and the nuisance party is only a noise complaint, it will have to meet the requirements of disturbing the neighborhood as mentioned above.
What if the party continues after the police have made a visit?
Call 9-1-1 again, inform the communication specialists that you believe an officer has already made one visit, but the violation is continuing.
Should I call the non-Emergency number instead?
I do not recommend that you contact the non-Emergency number for a noise violation or nuisance party. The communications specialists who answer 9-1-1 also answer the non-Emergency line. When you call 9-1-1 your call is recorded and dispatched.