If the Illegal Noise is Waking You Up or Keeping You Awake,
Here's What You Can Do

New:   Call 311:  If it's loud enough to bother you, it's probably illegal.  The police can cite the noise maker and fine them.  The operators who handle the 311 center are professional and will send out the next available police officer.

If the noise is recurring --from say a regular pre-7am truck delivery, or a store that has a loud, outdoor speaker, after hours construction, or some other business-- contact the DC Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.  DCRA will send out an inspector and can cite or fine the violator. 

 This page is no longer being revised.  Instead, please visit the QuietDC YahooGroup at:

  DC residents have the right to peace and quiet.  (And it's the law!)

Sleep Deprivation Links:
QuietDC Listserv:  Discuss your noise problems here
A good CNN story about sleep deprivation
Read more about the lack of sleep and auto accidents
The National Sleep Foundation
District of Columbia Anti-Noise Laws
DC Police, 2nd District
Some solutions for dealing with barking dogs
Another site with innovative solutions for dealing with barking dogs and other noisy neighbor issues

The more complaints about noise the faster any particular problem will be resolved.
  So, please write, fax, email and call as many DC officials as you can.
  And remember, pre-7am and post-9pm noise is generally illegal.
DC residents have the right to a full night's sleep.

But, if the noise --barking dog, teenage drummer, extra-loud lawnmower-- is coming from a neighbor, it's always best to talk with the neighbor first*.  A pleasant chat can often go a long way toward resolving your noise problem.  And talking first can help prevent bad neighbor relations. 

*If you think that a dog is in distress or is being neglected, contact the Washington, DC Human Society ASAP.  They'll send out an inspector. 

Click here to join quietdc
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NOTE, 3/31/2007  The contact information below is now out of date.  You should check the DC Government's websites for the most current contact information. --Bill Adler

Here's whom you can write to about illegal pre-7am recycling pickups problem.  (Scroll down the page to read more about the problem of the city's recycling trucks waking up District residents with illegal, pre-dawn pickups.)

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Office of the General Counsel
941 N. Capitol Street, NE
Suite 9400
Washington, DC 20002
Fax: 202-442-9447

DCRA will send an investigator out and cite the violator. 

Councilmember Kathy Patterson
Office of Councilmember Kathy Patterson
Suite 107
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Fax: 202-724-8188

Mayor Anthony Williams
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20004

Mr. Willie Goode
Goode Trash Removal
 4700 Lawrence Street
Hyattsville, Maryland 20781
Fax: 301-779-7896

Office of Recycling
Department of Public Works
3220 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20020
Phone: 202-645-8245
Fax: 202-645-5066


What's the problem?  The problem is that the recycling truck that pickups up homeowner's recycling is arriving earlier and earlier, waking Cleveland Park residents as early as 6am.  District of Columbia law prohibits this kind of noisy activity (along with other things like construction) before 7am.  You can read the law here.  The relevant sections are 2608.1 and 2608.2.  Violators can be fined $300 per incident, plus 10 days in jail. 

If you are bothered by this pre-7am noise, please write to the city government and your Councilmember, Kathy Patterson.  You can also complain to the Metropolitan Police in person or by phone: dial 311.  Here is a letter that Bill Adler wrote, which you can use as a template. 

On Wednesday, December 4th, the recycling truck picked up our streetís recycling at 6:25am.

The recycling truck now regularly picks up recycling well before 7am, in clear violation of District of Columbia law. In the process, these illegal pickups disturb the sleep of thousands of District residents. Recycling pickup is very loud. These pre-dawn pickups wake up our entire family.

Specifically, these recycling pickups violate Sections 2806.1 and 2806.2 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, which make it illegal to have trash pickups in residential neighborhoods between the hours of 9pm and 7am. 

The laws prohibiting noisy activities in the evening are sound, sensible laws, designed to protect the health of District residents. Sleep deprivation is a significant cause of traffic accidents, lost productivity at work and poor health.

This is a serious problem. I am requesting that the Department of Public Works take immediate action to ensure that the recycling truck does not appear before 7am. (I should note that the cityís own Department of Sanitation trucks have never found it necessary to work before 7am.)

I am sending a copy of this letter to Councilmember Kathy Patterson.

Thank you for your assistance in this important matter.


Bill Adler

November 11, 2004 Update:  After a 18-month pause, early morning recycling is happening again in the Cleveland Park neighborhood.  On 11/10/04 the recycling truck came by one street at 6:45am, which means it was probably coming around even earlier on other blocks.  A class-action lawsuit may be filed against Good Trash Removal.  If you are interested in being a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Goode Trash Removal, please email Janae-Talib@email.netmails.net or call 202-986-9275.

January 21, 2003 Update:  After talking with the president of Waste Management, Goode Trash Removal (the subcontractor for Waste Management), and the DC Police, I think that the problem of early morning recycling has stopped. Stay tuned. --Bill Adler

January 3, 2002 Update: In a conversation I had with the DC Office on Recycling I was told that the recycling company, Waste Management, knows that pre-7am pickups are illegal.  That's outrageous, of course:  The Recycling Office and Waste Management both acknowledge that what they're doing is illegal, but they're going to do it anyway.  Only your letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls can make a difference.  The Recycling Office made the same admission in a letter, which you can read here. --Bill Adler

Remember:  It's not a choice between recycling and no recycling.
  One kind of  pollution --noise pollution-- shouldn't be the way we solve another pollution problem. 

If it's after 9pm or before 7am and is noisy, it's probably illegal.  Don't suffer in silence (pardon the pun):  get results!

In New Jersey it's now a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if cause a fatal accident while driving drowsy.  The New Jersey law is called "Maggie's Law," named after a college student who was killed by a driver who admitted to being up for 30 hours. 

Surveys show that some 51% of drivers feel sleepy while driving and 20% have fallen asleep while driving.  Lack of sleep can kill.  Don't let anyone tell you that sleep isn't important.  It is. 

You can join QuietDC, a spam-free email list dedicated to discussing noise issues in the Washington, DC area:

Subscribe to quietdc
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Read about the Cleveland Park email list in The Washington Post

Parting thought:

Marc Fisher's tongue-and-cheek suggestion for dealing with neighbor noise:  "Those who conduct loud, all-night parties are henceforth required to stage such events immediately next door to people who mow their laws at the break of day."  (Washington Post, July 6, 2003)