There’s nothing like driving along the coast with your windows open, taking in the sea air and enjoying your favorite music. In Florida, you need to be careful how loud you play that music. Police can and do stop people and give them a hefty ticket. Some people, data and anecdotal evidence show, are more likely to be cited than others.
Last year, Florida enacted a law that made it illegal to play music that is “plainly audible” over 25 feet away or “[l]ouder than necessary for the convenient hearing by persons inside the vehicle in areas adjoining private residences, churches, schools, or hospitals.” The law applies not just to those in cars but also in open vehicles like motorcycles and golf carts like those used to shuttle tourists around beach districts.
The lawmaker who sponsored the legislation in the Florida House of Representatives says it was intended to help police crack down on “popup parties” where people gather in their cars in residential areas and blast their music. However, drivers are being stopped as they’re driving by police officers who claim, without evidence, that the volume of their music violates the law.
Black drivers have been ticketed disproportionately
Some Black drivers say that the law is being used to stop – and sometimes to try to search – their cars. One man says officers have repeatedly asked his permission to search his vehicle, but he’s refused. Others says they’re stopped and ticketed multiple times a day.
The data available through the end of 2022 backs them up. While Black drivers make up 16% of the Florida population who is eligible to drive, they received nearly 37% of the noise violation tickets.
That kind of information can no longer be gathered because of yet another law passed and signed at about the same time as the noise violation law. It prohibits information about ticketed drivers like race from being publicly disclosed.
This is considered a “nonmoving violation.” However, as noted, the tickets cost drivers over $100 each. They also provide, as one person put it, “more opportunities to pull people over.”
Any time police pull someone over, it is an opportunity to check their license, registration and insurance. This can lead to citations for any number of other violations. You can choose to fight them. Having legal guidance helps.