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Florida law changes tune on loud car stereo music

Lakewood Ranch residents differ on whether government should define what is too loud.

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  • | 1:00 p.m. July 7, 2022
  • East County
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It is one of the memorable lines of the classic rock era.

Lynyrd Skynyrd started its "Sweet Home Alabama" by telling us to "Turn it up."

It's something Florida motors aren't supposed to do anymore, or risk getting a ticket.

On July 1, a new statute by the Florida State Legislature went into effect. According to statute 316.3045, it is unlawful for drivers to play music that is “plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more from a motor vehicle” or “louder than necessary for the convenient hearing by persons inside the vehicle (while) in areas adjoining churches, schools, or hospitals.”

According to Randy Warren, Public Information Officer for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department, the department will not be writing citations for the first 30 days the statute is in place.

“We like to call it compliance through education,” he said. “We’ll help people understand, ‘Hey, listen, this is in effect now. So it's something you need to be aware of.”

He said that after that time, those in violation will be subject to a fine of $116, which will be a nonmoving violation, meaning the offender will not receive points against their license.

He said the law will apply to motorcycles and convertibles the same as it does any vehicle.

“It’s not something that happens every hour or necessarily every day, but there are there are times where, according to the new law, this is totally going to be a violation, and then at that point, tickets will be written,” said Warren.

Is this a necessary step or the government meddling far too much into our lives? East County residents offered mixed opinions on the new law and the fines.

“That's crazy. I can't believe they're doing that,” the Lake Club's Ken Swan said. “I'm sure there are better things (for law enforcement) to do than to be listening for loud music coming out of cars. I'll have to make sure my music is not too loud.”

Swan said he isn't bothered by loud music coming from a car because it is only a temporary annoyance.

"They're gone," he said. "It's not like they're parking purposely next to you and turning it up."

Braden Woods' Kevin Zapata said "it's getting a little insane," the government feels the needs to regulate how loud your music should be when you are driving in your vehicle.

He said some people, do indeed, play their music obnoxiously loud, but that used to be their right.

As far as the fine, Zapata said it is too severe.

“That’s what I'm paying for groceries right now," he said of the $116.

Tara's Adrienne Bookhamer said it is an overbearing step by the state.

“It's just extreme," she said. "Does (loud music) really hurt anybody?”

Her husband, Doug Bookhamer, agreed with Zapata the $116 fine was too expensive. He said it's likely many drivers receiving the fines would be younger. He suggested starting off with a lower fine and raising the amount for subsequent violations.

Lakewood Ranch's Dave Fauquier said it isn't a matter that needed attention.

“I haven't heard a lot of loud music playing as I've been driving, except for once in awhile," Fauquier said.

Fauquier also expressed empathy for those who enjoy loud music.

"It’s not really distracting, just annoying," he said. "I did that when I was a young kid. I'd be hypocritical if I complained about it now.”

Marshall Kaufman of Esplanade said he thought the law was too difficult to enforce.

He said the notion is a good one in principle, and that loud music could mask the sound of an emergency vehicle, but he didn't think police would enforce the law.

Other responses were in favor of the new law.

Vicki and Howard Smith both strongly favored the new law.
Vicki and Howard Smith both strongly favored the new law.

"I think they ought to enforce it," said Lakewood Ranch's Vicki Smith. "A lot of people might not be aware of it being a law, though, so maybe issue a warning the first time."

Her husband, Howard Smith, said he has seen drivers who are unaware of what is going on around them due to a blasting stereo.

East County's Kari Evans said the loud music coming from another car doesn't bother her, but she does wonder if it is distracting the drive.

She said the music might block the sound of emergency vehicles for those drivers, endangering others on the road. 

Loretta Dougherty said she didn't think loud music on the roads was a major issue.
Loretta Dougherty said she didn't think loud music on the roads was a major issue.

Loretta Dougherty of Lakewood Ranch said she understands the reasons for the new law, but she "doesn't really agree with it."

She notes that even if the loud music annoys you for a moment, it then passes you by.

She said she would be surprised if it is enforced.

Lakewood Ranch's Jene Watts said perhaps there should be a time stipulation attached to the law so that people could play their stereos loud during the day, but not late at night.

She said, overall, she never has been concerned with loud music coming out of vehicles.

“Roll your window up,” she said.

Whatever residents' views, the sheriff’s department has taken on board the new statute.