We’ve all experienced it. We are calmly absorbed in our business when a jarring cacophony of sound shatters the placid stillness of the air. As we turn to look, we’re already forming an image of the offending vehicle: a souped-up sports car or SUV, probably black or red. The roughneck in the driver's seat seems utterly indifferent as he whizzes by.

Incidents like this can leave us feeling helpless and enraged, and a bill that cleared the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee by a unanimous vote yesterday takes a tougher stance against these disturbers of the peace.

The legislation, introduced by Assemblyman William Spearman, began with a much more zealous approach than was ultimately approved by the committee. It sought to regulate these vehicles, which are equipped with specially designed audio systems for maximum noise and are colloquially known as “boom cars,” under pre-existing laws concerning unlawful road vehicles such as prohibited ATVs and dirt bikes. It would have allowed municipalities to impound, and in some circumstances even destroy, vehicles being used to produce sound audible at a distance of 50 feet.

Instead, the committee voted unanimously to move forward an amended version of the bill that eliminated the provision about seizure and destruction but still retained the rest of the penalty framework that arises from treating these as unlawful vehicles. Under the bill, first offenses are to be fined $250; second offenses, $500; and third offenses, $750, plus two penalty points.