UTVs in Hot Water as Moab Officials Take Aim at Noise

Authorities are considering citations for noise in Moab, Utah.

Gibson Performance Exhaust.
Gibson Performance Exhaust.UTV Driver

In the hills of Moab,Utah, the spiritual home of the US off-roading scene, there could be trouble brewing for the UTV crowd. Local officials have put the brakes on new licenses for UTV rental and touring companies and dropped speed limits on UTVs in town in an effort to keep noise in check, according to a story in the Moab Sun News. But business owners and advocates worry the regulations will further damage businesses already hammered by the pandemic.

When times are good, it’s a business that pulls its weight in town. Scott McFarland, who owns UTV rental and guide business High Point Hummer, told the Sun that his business has paid $172,000 in local taxes this year.

There are solutions afoot, but translating them from idea to practice isn’t as easy as anyone would like. The chairman of the Grand County Motorized Trails Committee, Clif Koontz, is pushing the “20-inch test” to keep UTV drivers with noisy, modified rigs in check. Basically, a tester would hold a decibel meter 20 inches from your exhaust at cruising rpm. If you’re at 96 decibels or under, you’re golden. Shoot over that mark and you’re parked.

The rub with that test, the local sheriff and city attorney say, is that citations stemming from it could get tossed in court. In other states, according to officials quoted in the Sun, citations were nixed when defendants challenged the accuracy of the decibel meter. The solution authorities propose? For one, checkpoint-style stops for everyone, regardless of vehicle. It's cumbersome, but according to the Sun, officials say it's one way to make citations stick.

The situation in Moab is still unfolding, and we'll work hard to keep you posted as it progresses. For more detailed reporting, check out the story on the Moab Sun News, and keep your eyes peeled on its site for more updates.