What You Need to Know About Florida’s New Loud Music Law

July 7, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

A new law has just been passed to remind Florida drivers to “turn it down!” The streets are set to be much quieter from July 1st, as Gov. DeSantis has passed the renewal of the “Loud Music Law.” Under the new law drivers will be fined for playing music too loud, specifically from 25 feet or further.

The law is designed to make the roads and neighborhoods both quieter and safer, however, a similar law was overturned by the Supreme Court just ten years ago for being deemed unconstitutional. Breaking the new law can be punished with a fine, or in the most extreme cases, a misdemeanor or even getting your vehicle impounded.

Now that it has been passed again, it is important to look at the details as well as the punishments that can arise if there is a violation. Also questioning if the law is just a way for police to target minorities or seek out issuing more serious criminal charges.

If you get in trouble with the new loud music law or any criminal charge, your best bet is to get the help of a skilled defense attorney in your area.

Details of the Law

Under Florida Statute Section 316.3045, the state uniform traffic control for motor vehicles defines the law as “the operation of radios or other mechanical soundmaking devices or instruments in vehicles.” The law explains that it is unlawful for any individual operating or occupying a vehicle on a street or highway to amplify the sound from a radio, tape player, or other mechanical soundmaking device from the vehicle. The two specific details in which the law would be violated is if the sound:

  • Is plainly audible from a distance of 25 feet or more from the car;
  • The music or sound coming from the car is “louder than necessary” for the convenient hearing by the people inside the car around areas that have churches, schools, or hospitals.

It is important to note the distance that is mentioned in the legislature’s text. “Plainly audible” from 25 feet or more—for reference, the average car is about 15 feet long. This means that an individual could potentially receive a ticket if a police officer is in front of them and can hear their music. In addition, the statute states that a person can either be operating or occupying a vehicle. So if an individual is just  sitting in their car playing music, then an officer can give that person a ticket. 

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles has defined “plainly audible” as the following:

“The officer need not to determine the particular words or phrases being produced or the name of any song or artist producing the sound. The detection of a rhythmic bass reverberating type sound is sufficient to constitute a plainly audible sound.”

If an individual violates the new loud music law, it is a non-criminal traffic violation. Beginning July 1st, the fine for violating the law is up to $114. However, if a person is in violation of the loud music law surrounding a church, school, or hospital, they could be hit with a disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct misdemeanor. Under Florida Statute 877.03, disorderly conduct or “breach of peace” is considered a second-degree misdemeanor which carries the punishment of up to a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail.

One detail to note is that there is now a provision for officers to impound the vehicle for up to three days for non-criminal traffic violations if it happened during an unsanctioned “pop-up” party, which is an issue Florida police have been trying to tackle since last year’s Daytona Truck Meet.

A “pop-up” party with more than 50 people is considered a “special event zone” and if a driver is cited for a violation of the loud music law in one of these zones, they could face up to double the fines from a non-criminal traffic violation. So getting a $114 ticket for loud music could suddenly turn into an individual getting their car impounded by police for 72 hours.

To read more about pop-up parties and special event zones, you can find our informative blog post here.

Deemed Unconstitutional a Decade Ago

This is not the first time there has been a law focused on people playing loud music from their cars. In fact, just ten years ago the Supreme Court ruled that telling drivers to turn down their stereos was a restriction on the right of free speech.

In 2012, the Supreme Court Justices found the law, “invalid because it is an unreasonable restriction on the freedom of expression.” One of the faults they found within the legislature was that it was not equally distributed. While the law focused on loud music, it did not include loud sounds coming from either political or business advertisements. 

The exemptions to the previous law included police officers who use loud sounds or communication devices to perform the duties of a police officer, or for an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance who must indicate to the public that they are performing an emergency procedure. In addition, the original law did not apply to any vehicles that are used for either business or political purposes.

In the 2012 majority opinion written by Justice Jorge Labarga, he wrote: “For instance, business and political vehicles may amplify commercial or political speech at any volume, whereas an individual traversing the highways for pleasure would be issued a citation for listening to any type of sound, whether it is religious advocacy or music, too loudly.”

Now with the new law going into effect on July 1st, it will remove the exemption of political and business purposes from the vehicle noise.

Issues with the Law: Pretext for Criminal Charges?

The goal of the new loud music law is to create a positive change for Floridians, both on the road and in their homes. However, there are plenty of drivers who are not pleased with the new regulations. Some individuals are claiming it is a “new revenue device for all law enforcement agencies in the state.”

After NBC 6 posted information about the new law on their Facebook page, inviting Florida citizens to comment on their opinions. One of the comments questioned, “Are all departments going to have a device that registers the correct decibel level either at the time of complaint or witnessing the occurrence? Or are we going with tried, tested, and true ‘Cop said it so it must be true’?”

This brings up a huge potential issue with the law. If an officer believes a person driving or parked has their music too loud within a range of 25 feet, they will now have every right to proceed with a routine traffic stop with said driver. What’s to say this won’t lead to the officer attempting to search the vehicle? A police officer needs either consent to search your car, or probable cause, however, the police can pull you over for your loud music and then could find a reason to search your car.

“It’s a pretext to pull people over for other reasons,” St. Pete attorney Richard Petersburg told NBC 6. The law would be able to use the noise coming from the radio to issue an unwarranted drug search. Along with that, it could also allow the police to impound the vehicle if it is during an unsanctioned party.

The loud music law brings up concerns for police and the legislature to target racial minorities and serve as a trigger for warrantless vehicle searches. Although the violation itself only issues a $114 fine, there are clearly other severe penalties that can arise. For one, with the special event zones and pop-up parties, the individual can lose possession of their vehicle for up to three days. In addition, the police may attempt to search the individual’s vehicle for drugs, weapons, or other illegal items to try and produce criminal charges instead of just a traffic violation. You can read our blog on Escalated Traffic Violations and How Getting Pulled Over can Lead to Serious Criminal Charges.

An assumed small fine for loud music can lead to criminal charges and potential jail time, which is why it is highly important to seek out the help of a skilled defense attorney if you have been arrested after receiving a loud music violation.


There is a very clear divide between people who are in favor or against the new loud music law. Some Florida citizens are grateful for the new regulations, who are tired of being imposed by loud music in their neighborhood.

South Florida local Tamara Armstrong told NBC 6 that she had to move from her former home in Fort Lauderdale after complaining multiple times about loud music, exhausts, and unlawful behavior from drivers. “I am super happy to see that something is now being done,” Armstrong said.

Another Florida resident, Lamonte Gwynn, gave their opinion to WESH News:

“Living in the area where there’s a lot of downtown activity there are cars that come through at 12 or 1 o’clock in the morning with their blaring music bumping through the neighborhood. If [the law] is really to cut down on the noise then I think it would help in some respect.”  

On the other hand, attorney Richard Catalano, 61, already had his own personal experience with the loud music law. He received a $73 ticket back in 2007 for playing a Justin Timberlake song too loud while driving to work. Instead of just paying the fine, Catalano researched the Florida Statute and challenged the law, claiming it was a violation of the First Amendment.

During Catalano’s case, his lawyer argued the provision of the law that exempted political or business purposes. His lawyer’s argument included the following:

“Blaring ice cream trucks and sound trucks broadcasting political messages are not covered by the statute. They can crank out ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ to lure children or broadcast empty political promises that can be heard 500 feet away. However, a citizen parked next to the ice cream truck or sound truck gets a citation if the ‘rhythmic bass’ from his car stereo can ever be ‘detected’ just 25 feet away.”

Catalano not only won his case, but it reached the Supreme Court and helped overturn the law in 2012 for believing the law was unconstitutional. Now ten years later, Catalano provides his thoughts on the law getting passed once again. “It’s a balancing of interests. I’m 61 years old now. The older you get, the more you think loud music is annoying,” he said. “But kids got to make some noise. We did it when we were kids.”

Orange County Sheriff’s Office police officer Lt. Mike Crabb attempted to reassure Florida citizens after the law’s backlash. “We are not trying to target someone trying to listen to music and have a good time,” he told WESH. “But, there is a limit to the noise that you can create from your vehicle.”

Crabb said that multiple tickets could be given to a driver if they continue to break the new loud music law after the first violation. The law goes into effect as of July 1st, 2022.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

The easy solution is to tell people to simply “turn it down” while in their vehicle. However, that seems harder in practice. It will also be difficult to determine what exactly “too loud” will be considered by police. Even if a driver believes their music is low enough, an officer could potentially claim they heard enough of the ‘rhythmic bass’ to issue a traffic violation. As we mentioned before, the new law should only end with up to a $114 fine. However, the additional variables of a special event zone, or being near a church, school, or hospital could result in more severe consequences. There is also the chance that getting pulled over for loud music could lead to the police attempting to search your vehicle. It is imperative that you remain calm and remember your rights. If you or a loved one gets accused of a crime after a traffic stop, it is extremely important to reach out to a Florida criminal defense attorney.

Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state of Florida for various criminal charges. We understand the importance of building a strong defense for your case, and will stand by your side throughout the entirety of the legal process. For a free consultation, today call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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