Stop the music, says Senate panel


The News Service of Florida

Sometimes the sound can be felt as much as heard — car-vibrating, teeth-rattling sound.

But with the Florida Supreme Court last year finding that a state noise law was unconstitutional, a Senate committee Monday approved a plan aimed again at turning down the volume.

The bill (SB 634) would bar motorists from cranking up music so that it is "plainly audible" 25 feet or more away. Police officers could pull over violators and give them $30 citations, according to a Senate staff analysis.

The 25-foot standard is the same as in the old law, but the bill would get rid of exemptions for vehicles used for business or political purposes. Those exemptions led the Supreme Court to pull the plug.

Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who was one of four supporters of the measure on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said the bill amounted to a technical fix of the old law.

"This is a clean-up measure," Bradley said.

But Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said they had bigger problems with the bill. For example, Smith said he was concerned about "primary enforcement" of the noise law — in other words, police pulling over motorists instead of just enforcing the law when they stop them for other reasons.

Gibson also questioned how far 25 feet would be and said she likes to head on down the highway with music blaring.

"I like my music loud, especially on I-10 when I’m driving back and forth to Tallahassee,’’ she said.

The bill, sponsored by Trilby Republican Wilton Simpson, stemmed from a December Supreme Court ruling in the case of a man who was ticketed for cranking up Justin Timberlake too loud. The House version of the bill (HB 1019) is slated to be heard Tuesday in the House Economic Affairs Committee.

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