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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

District students fight noise ordinance

A new law targeting city-goers who make loud noise in D.C. is raising concern among area students, who believe the directive is specifically aimed at college students.

The law, which went into effect Tuesday, makes it illegal “to make an unreasonably loud noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. that is likely to annoy or disturb one or more other persons in their residences.” Violators of the law can be fined up to $500, or face up to 90 days in prison.

D.C. Students Speak – a group of local college students trying to get student voices into city debates – is circulating a petition to repeal the act, saying the law actively targets students.

“We think that specifically students are going to be disproportionately affected by the law,”?said Scott Stirrett, chair of D.C. Students Speak.

He said the law is too vague to enforce fairly, adding the law needs to clarify what “loud” is by providing a certain decibel level as grounds for fines or arrest.

Stirrett said the group is currently looking to file an injunction on the law – a court order that prevents an action from occurring – while his organization works to repeal it.

“We are currently in contact with lawyers, and planning on how to move forward,” Stirrett said. “If a potential injunction does fail, we will work hard to lobby the council as well as Mayor Vincent Gray to repeal this law.”

D.C. Students Speak created a Facebook event for the petition, which thus far has garnered nearly 1,200 signatures to repeal the law, and has rallied more than 1,700 members in the first 24 hours of its existence.

University Police Department Chief Kevin Hay said UPD will only invoke the new noise law if needed, and that officers will continue to give verbal warnings first before taking disciplinary action.

“The good news is, most people quiet down the first time we ask and it does not have to go to a higher level of enforcement,” Hay said, adding that students are also subject to D.C. law and can be arrested for violations, but officers can use their discretion.

Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump declined to answer questions on how stringently MPD will enforce the law in college areas.

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