Can I Be Stopped for Playing Music Too Loud in Florida?




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Florida has one of the strangest laws in the United States, which prohibits the playing of sound within 25 feet.

This rule applies not only to private residences but also to those who operate motor vehicles.

In Orlando, the enforcement of such a law by police officers has been an excuse to stop cars and check for drugs. But if we pay attention to smartphone specifications, we see that 25 feet is very little, since some mobile devices can be heard at just that distance.

If you do get pulled over by a police officer, you will be assessed a minimum fine of $30 and an additional court assessment. 

What Are the Critical Values for the Noise Limit?

Florida first began enforcing the Noise Act back in 1949. Under the old laws, the noise ordinance was governed by the Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 7.

Throughout the decades until 1996, various studies were conducted to determine what critical noise data would be hazardous to humans and the environment.

common causes of death accidents
Causes of Wrongful Death Accidents in Orlando – source – Nunez Law Firm

State legislators determined that the scale measurement would be determined in decibels, and the size would be identical to the famous Richter scale. However, in order to properly apply the provision of the legislation, it was decided to use a dual system, that is, decibels (dB) and Hertz (Hz), for analysis. 

Researchers determined that 10 decibels would be dangerous for humans, as a person would receive a double portion of noise at this criterion. 

Lawmakers have imposed a requirement to measure loudness with a special decibel meter and exclusively on the A scale. In fact, the instrument has two logarithmic scales, showing data in dB and Hz.

For a long time, studies were conducted on the negative effects of noise on the human body, where even with the participation of the State Attorney a survey was carried out, which led to unconventional solutions. 

The studies involved data conducted by scientists studying the human body during the day and at night. Scientists determined that the interference for the human body at night is in the neighborhood of 35 dB, and outside the house during the daytime is 50 dB.

Unregulated noise, increasing these indicators by 15 dB, is already recognized as dangerous and critical. This figure is used to violators who listen to music in their cars. 

Features of the Application of the Law

In 1999 the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Florida (Fifth District Court of Appeals or Fifth DCA) ruled the Noise Act unconstitutional. However, some parts of the state still apply where any police officer can stop a car because of loud music.

Notably, the Fifth DCA increased the critical sound limits from 25 feet to 100 feet. Nevertheless, the Orlando police still fined loud music fans the old-fashioned way, based on 25 feet, believing that the Fifth DCA decision did not apply to their county. 

Once there was a real revolution that changed the fate of all motorists in Central Florida. The so-called Montgomery VS State case (Montgomery VS State, 36 FLW D2046 (Fla. 5th DCA 9/16/11) finally set the record straight.

The plaintiff surnamed Montgomery challenged the unconstitutionality of the statute, proving to the court and the community that the vague language should be removed because “one can clearly hear from 25 feet away, which is clearly heard by my grandfather, who cannot hear at all.” 

The court held that the “Noise Act” should not be interpreted vaguely, the application of the provision should be “overbroad.”

Because the Act prohibits playing loud music, but it does not prohibit playing that music if there are “business” or “political” reasons. Businesses cannot receive more rights in this case than individuals. That is a provision where businesses are allowed “everything,” and private citizens are not allowed “anything” is a violation of free speech.

Does Loud Music Affect Traffic Safety?

A police officer who records a wrongful death accident caused by loud music, in the report indicates a factor – distracted driving.

Lawmakers in Florida have established a critical noise threshold not only for those around them but also for the driver himself, which must not be exceeded.

Exceeding the number of decibels by 10-15 points results in the driver not hearing the sound of the signal of other accident sections and provokes dangerous moments on the road, leading to a car accident.

Distracted driving is among the most dangerous accidents in the United States, with up to 8 deaths per day. The total number of crashes recorded as distracted driving each year reaches 48,500 in the United States.

This number includes accidents caused by drivers listening to loud music and not responding to other accident sites. In Florida, listening to loud music as an element of distracted driving is considered “auditory distraction,” in which the music prevents the driver from hearing important signals outside the car, such as the horns and sirens of other vehicles.

How to Apply the Provisions of the Noise Law to Motorists?

Since the vague wording of the Act still has its force in Florida, it is customary to assume the following rules.

  • It is prohibited to play loud music from a distance of 50 feet, and only at specified times, namely from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Loud music may not be played over 300 feet (such as on a bridge) and may not be played with the windows and doors closed.
  • A police officer may give you a “warning” where you must turn off the music within 5 minutes.
  • It is forbidden to play music, regardless of distance, near schools and churches.
  • Noise law does not apply to agricultural vehicles, ambulances, emergency vehicles, emergency vehicles.
  • The law does not apply to the human voice if one drives a car and conducts a sporting event. In this case, the sporting event must be organized and only outdoors.
  • Individual counties and cities in Florida have the right to set their own minimums and distances for playing loud music, but the minimum threshold is noted at 25 feet. 

If there is clear evidence of a violation of the Act, the police officer, in addition to issuing a “warning”, has in some cases to impound the vehicle. 

The first fine will be $30 and additional court costs. A repeat case would face a $500 fine and plus court assessment. Despite the ambiguity of the noise law, the best recommendation is still to improve the soundproofing of your car.

Pay special attention to the soundproofing of the doors because it is the most problematic part of the car, where the loud music comes from. 

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