Can Playing Your Car Stereo Too Loud Get You a Ticket?

Update:  Christmas came early this year.  As of 12/14/2012 The Supreme Court of Florida has struck down the law that made it unlawful to play music too loud. In a 7-0 decision, the courts ruled this law is a violation of the freedom of expression. 

Therefore, you can now play your car stereo music as loud as you want.  Feel free to blast Justin Timberlake or whatever else makes you happy.

Your thoughts.

Do you agree with this new ruling?

(Here's the Original post from March 21, 2012) 

Ever find yourself sitting in your car cruising along, radio blasting, not a care in the world?  Did you know you can get a ticket for playing your car stereo too loud?  What's worse, did you know what you're blasting might make a difference whether you get pulled over or not?  Sad, but true.

The law on how loud you can play music in your car before getting a ticket is fairly clear.  It says if the car stereo is "plainly audible" at 25 feet or more, a police officer can give you a ticket.  So, before you crank up that Kanye West  or Coldplay song you love, you may want to get out your tape measure.  Or, just take a look to see if anyone's around.

But, I bet you didn't know that if you were blasting talk radio, and the topic was a political discussion, you would be fine, no matter how loud it was?  Additionally, if you were an ice cream truck blasting that awful organ grinder music, again, no problem.  Does that seem crazy to you?

Well, you're not alone.  Recently, a Florida attorney was jamming out to the latest Justin Timberlake song (no comment), and was cited for violating the statute for having his music too loud in his car.  He decided to challenge the fact that the law put restrictions on what he was listening to, but chose to not restrict political or religious messages.  Additionally, there is no restriction for businesses such as ice-cream trucks. 

The case has gone all the way up to the Florida Supreme Court who has yet to issue a ruling.  But clearly, there does appear to be a first amendment issue at stake.  By choosing to regulate the content of the message, the state has chosen to give protection to one kind of message over another.  That would appear to be exactly what the First Amendment was desinged to protect.

The state's argument is that the messages it is protecting are mainly blasted from megaphones that are placed outside the vehicle, as opposed to speakers for music that are inside the vehicle and prevent the passengers from hearing emergency vehicles. 

I'm not buying it, but it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.  I'll keep you posted.

If you did get a ticket for playing your car stereo too loud or for any other reason, and want to discuss it with a Florida Traffic Attorney, give me a call at 954-370-9999 or drop me an email.



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