Noise exposure affects your hearing and, according to the University of Texas Institute for Health Policy, possibly your overall health. The publication names heart disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances and high stress among the conditions attributable to excessive noise. The State of Texas recognizes it as being harmful and has given its municipalities the freedom to enact laws with varying degrees of strictness. The website gives examples of the fines of cities within the state. A conviction under the Houston ordinances, for example, could land you a fine of up to $1,000 dollars. In Dallas, you could receive a $2,000 fine and in Austin, you may have to pay $500 or $2,000 if the offense is against public health laws.
In Austin, according to Ordinance 9-2-3, it is unlawful to play a musical instrument, CD player or other device that could disrupt the peaceful sleep of your neighbors between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. You must apply for a permit if you wish to perform construction work involving the loading, unloading or grading of sand, rock or gravel within 600 feet of a residence, church, hotel or hospital between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Austin law also forbids using vehicle sound equipment which causes vibrations and which another person can hear in excess of 30 feet from your car or truck.
Dallas rules prohibit you from blowing a horn from a car, truck, bus or any other vehicle, except as a warning signal, according to Chapter 30 of the City Ordinances. Sound trucks whose purpose is to advertising or selling is also against the law there. You may not operate a loudspeaker or amplifier, except between 8:00 a.m. and sunset, or within 150 feet of the property line of any residence. Furthermore, you are in violation of this section if you use a sound amplifier within 150 feet of any hospital, school currently in session, nursing home or outpatient surgical facility.
El Paso’s noise standards are strict. Chapter 9.40.040 of its city ordinances on noise provides for a noise zone chart. This tool sets up such zones according to what activities take place there. For example, all residential structures are in Zone I, having a noise limit of 50 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. This number increases to 55 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The law allows entities in Zone II, commercial properties, to generate more noise because the activities of business and manufacturing require it, depending on the industry. For this reason, between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., the ordinance allows non-manufacturing businesses a limit of 60 decibels, and during the evening hours, the City of El Paso permits noise levels of 55 or less. For manufacturing, or Zone 3, establishments, the limit is 65 in the evening hours, whereas during the day it’s 70.
The City of Houston has strict decibel specifications that you must follow if you live in the city or are there as a visitor. Any sound you make must be at or below 65 decibels during the day and 58 at night. If you are a business or nonresidential entity, your decibel limit stands at 68, night or day. According to Section 31-1 of the Houston Ordinances, daytime hours means 7:00 a.m. on a given day and 10:00 p.m. .that night.
However, according to Section 30-7-7, you may operate heavy machinery provided that you are performing your duties as a landscaper, that this work occurs between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and the noise is within 85 decibels.
Texas State Ordinances
The State of Texas safeguards the right of its school instructors to teach in peace. According to Title 2, Section 37.124, you break the law if you make noise of a nature that violates this right within 500 feet of school property.
The State also has made laws regulating vulgarity, whether or not it takes place near a school. You cannot allow your stereo or TV to emit programming, music or speech that is loud, vociferous and vulgar.
Also, in the state of Texas, if you as a businessperson noisily hawk your products, you are subject to public nuisance laws. According to 217.003, the State grants cities permission to make ordinances outlawing certain public advertisement behaviors. For example, if you noisily blow a horns, ring a bell or sing songs in an attempt to draw attention to yourself in an attempt to auction off or sell your products, you could be subject to penalties, depending on the city or town.