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ASK YOUR GOVERNMENT: Are there any laws governing loud car alarms?

Q. My wife and I were woken up by a car alarm very early one morning recently. It seemed like it went on and off for more than an hour. This happens regularly downtown where we live. I know there is a city noise ordinance that generally applies to loud parties, but are there any laws governing loud alarms?

A. Grand Forks City Code prohibits some excessive noises related to vehicles, speakers, radios, construction and other things, said Kevin Dean, city spokesman.

But car alarms are difficult for the law to address because they could go off by accident rather than an intentional act by the car’s owner, Dean said.

It becomes very difficult to charge a person with an offense when they are not intentionally allowing, furthering or producing that noise, he said.

But, especially this time of year, it’s frustrating, because winter weather can accidentally set off car alarms.

If anyone hears a car alarm activated, and they fear a crime is being committed or the alarm becomes annoying, Dean said to contact the police department so an officer can check on the disturbance.

Street lights out?

Q. In Grand Forks it seems there are so many street lights out. I counted 47 street lights out on a drive around town the other day. How and when are street lights maintained?

A. The city and Xcel Energy share the responsibility of maintaining street lights.

The city is directly responsible for approximately 1,200 lights, while another 3,500 lights are serviced by Xcel Energy, Dean said.

With that number of lights to maintain, there will always be some that are burned out, because city and Xcel Energy workers can’t check every light every day.

“We depend on the public to be our eyes in the field and let us know about lights that are burned out, working intermittently or in need of other repair,” Dean said.

The easiest way to report a problem is to call 311 and give the location of the broken light, or it can be reported online at

Crews work to keep street lights in good working order year round, Dean said.


Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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