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Car radio noise before Florida Supreme Court

Under Florida law, you can get a ticket for blasting music out of your car speakers, but it is okay to crank up Rush Limbaugh or Terry Gross. A St. Petersburg man is trying to change that, and he’s taken his appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

Listen Now

If Richard Catalano had been listening to “All Things Considered,” he probably would’ve been okay. Instead Catalano, a corporate lawyer, was listening to Justin Timberlake.

The law says noise, specific types of noise, originating within a vehicle cannot be "plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more.”

Catalano told the court Thursday that’s unconstitutional. “If I’m running for office, I can be in the sound truck and get on there and as loudly as I want say ‘vote for honest Rich Catalano for mayor’ and they can’t touch me for that under this statute,” said Catalano. “But if I play Led Zeppelin ‘Houses of the Holy’ or if I do anything like that, or if I make a religious speech, I get a ticket.”

Last May, an appeals court in Lakeland sided with Catalano, saying the law is too vague.  The Florida Attorney General’s Office appealed, arguing that the law is about the safety of the people in the vehicle. The state says the driver needs to be able to hear horns and emergency sirens. Justice Barbara Pariente countered that car loads of kids are noisy but the statute doesn’t apply to them.

No word on when the court will rule.

Gina Jordan, WLRN-Miami Herald News