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.
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.”