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Court overturns law that penalizes drivers for loud music

A Florida law that allows police to ticket drivers for playing their car stereos too loudly was ruled unconstitutional Wednesday by a Lakeland appeals court.

Judge Anthony K. Black, of the Second District Court of Appeal, concluded that the state law limiting the volume of audio in a car (316.3045) is unconstitutional because the law restricts loud music but excludes loud political or business speech.

"The statute is a content-based restriction on free expression which violates the First Amendment,” Black wrote in his 16-page ruling. 

The case was brought by Richard T. Catalano, a Clearwater attorney, and Alexander Schermerhorn, who received citations for playing their car music too loudly.

Because the statute exempted audio of a political or business nature but placed volume restrictions on amplified music, the court held that the restriction was content based and therefore in violation of constitutional protections against regulation of speech based on content.

Under the law, police can stop drivers and impose a $30 fine for driving with music too loud. A bill to increase the penalies was filed this session by Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, the former Alachua County sheriff. He wanted to increase the penalties for offenders but the measure -- which would have imposed a fine of $120 fine for a second violation and $180 for a third violation -- failed by a 16-20 vote in the final week of the session.

Rep. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, led the charge against the bill. “It points to a certain population that prefers this music, prefers the music playing this loud,” said Braynon, 34. “I happen to like to play my music a little louder.”

 

Comments

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Art Bishop

The decision is not judicious. Loud music can drown out emergency sirens; it can also be injurious to people's health - it can damage eardrums. It's a matter of an inappropriate place for such 'expression' and the judge ought to have known better.

2ArtBirship

"The decision is not judicious. Loud music can drown out emergency sirens; it can also be injurious to people's health - it can damage eardrums. It's a matter of an inappropriate place for such 'expression' and the judge ought to have known better."

The decision was content based so your argument has no merit based on the basis ruled. In essence you are asserting that other types of loud audio which were exempted would not have the same affect on those concerns you cite. That is not true, loud volume is loud volume. Again, the decision was based on content restrictions.

LadyMarianFL

What if you're hearing-impaired? (And before anyone says that loud music caused it, I was BORN with a hearing loss; I can't hear an ambulance siren UNTIL it's on top of me). We have as much right to enjoy our music in OUR cars, at the volume that is comfortable to us, as those who have normal hearing.

beach bum

I can not believe a judge would be so stupid as to over turn this law. These loud music players are not only disturbing the peace but are being unsafe as to another person not being able to hearing an emergency vehicle.

God help this country when a person can do anything he/she wants in the name of freedom of speach.

beach bum

Rep. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami,must be an idiot.

Peace&Quiet

I wonder how Judge Black and the two idiot lawyers will feel when I drive past their house at 2:00 AM every night with my car stereo blasting.

joel philippe

if i want to listen to loud music what wrong with that."it damages eardrums" how can it if its in my car its not your ear so why should it matter.

que

me being a music producer finds it breath taking now i can listen to my music the way it was intended for me to listen to it u say music is to loud what about road construction sirens people on the street with bull horns campaining for there favorite repub tard see when the shoe is on the other foot it dont feel or look right to you when you been steeling money from folks who want to enjoy there music an life doing what they love long as they are not hurting anyone i am cool house party coming soon they need to stop targeting black and mixed clubs they see blacks and hispanic chilling we got be doing drugs but go on pondarosa beach they got more weed and drugs of all types they sale out there big houses long as they are gated in there locked box community run up in they house law man

Definitionofreal

Always thought the law was unfare, if its a noise issue then even the harleys roaring down the road should have been banned as well

NAN

im glad we can play as loud as we want to....its our cars and our sterios,and as for people saying it stops u from hearing sirens...be smart and look in your rearview mirror once in a while....i drive with my music blasting and never have I gotten in the way of a emergency car. Im happy with this new law...cops cant do nothing : )

Florida Lemon Law

How about those loud speaker blast from car audio systems interfering with motorists hearing Emergency sirens like Medic vans and cops use? Wouldn't that be a case for violation?

Howulikemenow

The lawyers name is Richard T Catalano of
Clearwater Fl. TSE Industries. Let's blast our radios there. 4370 112th Ter N.

TheRogue

While it can be said that the law was content based and, you can claim that you have the right to listen to your music as loud as you wish, I also have the right not to hear your music - and when you play your music so that I can hear it you are violating my rights. And that is not right. When you can hear the stereo over 100 feet away from a vehicle then that violates the rights of others.

Andrew Lipstern

Forget the attorney, how about the idiots that allowed it. Our own elected Judges, they are to be blame, there is a difference between a speaker giving a speech over a loud speaker, than a constant beating drum and guitars that will drown out all of your conversation and hearing ability. To hell with the judges, they should be voted out!!

Andrew Lipstern

We have lost what my grandfather had, sense and reason, we no longer punish the criminals, we have to understand their background, we blame the most for the fault of the few, we are pushed to hate other Americans for the sake of a political party, there is no sense of servitude, honor, and kindness. We are now going be subjects of technology's deafning power by an executive order by some bimbo in robes. Im getting the heck out of Florida!

mike

I work on call. I'm a Locomotive Engineer. I cross public crossings handling heavy and dangerous equipment. I have to work tonight and I was just awakened by loud music vibrating my bedroom windows. I hope I don't fall asleep tonight while I'm coming through your neighborhood. I wish bashing someone's windshield in with a baseball bat was considered expressing myself. I wish I could sell my house and move to the country. Why do Americans insist on using their liberties to irritate others. If they keep it up our liberties will surely be taken away.

Kraven

To the guy that's a locomotive engineer what about the sounding of that trains horn at that same crossing with houses nearby. Imagine being sound asleep & that engineer sounds that horn but my guess is that it doesn't matter to you because your up at 2am anyway. This is whats wrong with America now we want to put restrictions on this but not on that. We all know what type of music that law was aimed at so of course people would have a problem now that its gone. We could go back and fourth about this till we turn blue in the face just like its your right not hear, it its my right to play it & having to pay a fine for it is just (re-dic-u-less).

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