Sarasota Police issuing warnings to drivers playing loud music
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A new Florida law is pretty clear: Turn down the tunes or face a fine.
The state law, which goes into effect July 1, makes it illegal for drivers playing music or other recordings that are loud enough to be plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet, roughly two car lengths away.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in May. Ahead of the start date, Sarasota police officers are pushing the message: turn it down.
Capt. Robert Armstrong, with department’s patrol division, says his department has received several calls from citizens concerned with the volume of the music emanating from cars passing through residential areas.
He says people are fed up with the noise, and now police are finally able to enforce the new law. “Since 2013, we haven’t really had an enforcement opportunity to do so,” Armstrong said.
Now that the Florida measure is law, the city will be giving out warnings up until July 24. After that, get ready to pay up to $116.
If people can hear your music, podcast, or even sports play-by-play from 25 feet away, and police catch you, SPD will give you what is referred to as a non-moving violation, which is not a criminal offense.
However, officers will issue you a ticket similar to that of driving with expired tags, parking illegally or driving with a broken taillight.
Chris Flannagan lives in Sarasota and he has some questions about the rule. “What’s 25 feet? How do you know if you can hear something 25 feet away?” he asked. “Who decides that at the moment? It’s just music.”
Flannagan suggested alternatives. “Put a decibel limit or time restraint. After 8 p.m. you can’t have [loud music] it. This whole open-ended thing is just an excuse to pull someone over, search their car, and whatever they want to do,” he said.
The law gives local law enforcement the freedom to interpret and enforce how they choose. For example, the 25 foot rule doesn’t apply everywhere.
ABC7 learned you can be pulled over for playing loud music even if it is audible from less than 25 feet away. This applies to special areas like homes, churches, hospitals and schools.
“This kind of law is what is just bothering me so much about Florida right now,” Flannagan said. “The state prides itself on its freedom, and your ability to express yourself. Yet, we have these ‘gray-area laws’.”
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