Music Too Loud in Vehicle?

A common reason for a traffic stop here in Polk County is playing music/radio too loud in a vehicle.  If the music is loud enough, an officer may conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle.  Once the vehicle is stopped, the officer may find additional violations and charge the driver or occupants.  A common scenario occurs when a vehicle is stopped for loud music and the officer finds drugs in the vehicle.  The driver may get charged with both the excessive loudness ticket and the drug charge.

There is a new case that came down yesterday from Florida’s 2nd DCA that may effect the legality of these types of “loud music traffic stops”.  The case is State v. Catalano (2D10-973).

To read the opinion in full, go here.

To summarize, the Court held that the loud music statute, 316.3045, is a content-based restriction on free expression which violates the First Amendment.  The Court also certified a question of great public importance:

Is the “plainly audible” language in section 316.3045(1)(a), Florida Statutes, unconstitutionally vague, overbroad, arbitrarily enforceable, or impinging on free speech rights?

In the end, there may be additional guidance coming from the Florida Supreme Court on this issue.  As for now, this is a win for Florida criminal defense attorneys and defendants as it may effect not only the traffic ticket itself but also any other charges filed pursuant to the traffic stop.

For local media coverage of the case, go here.

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