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Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:18 AM

(Florida) Supreme Court strikes down loud-stereo law

Source: Florida Current

Bill Cotterell, 12/13/2012 - 05:36 PM

Driving around with rock or rap blasting from your dashboard may be impolite, even unhealthy for the eardrums of drivers who enjoy cruising to a bone-jarring bass beat, but it is a form of self-expression protected by the First Amendment, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Without dissent, Justice Jorge Labarga wrote that a 2007 state statute making it illegal to crank up the volume so loud that a cop can hear it 25 feet away is overly broad and a form of content-based censorship. The justices did not support an argument that the stricken statute was too vague to let drivers know when their volume was too high.

It started in Pinellas County, where police ticketed Richard Catalano and Alexander Schermerhorn in separate traffic stops. They pleaded not guilty and asked a county judge to dismiss their tickets on grounds that the law was "facially unconstitutional," then switched their pleas to no-contest and appealed. The court accepted their pleas and withheld adjudication.

"It's not a surprise but I'm very pleased by the verdict," said Catalano, an attorney who represented himself and Schermerhorn. The American Civil Liberties Union also filed a "friend of the court" brief in the Supreme Court ...



Read more: http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=30682237

12 replies, 2318 views

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:32 AM

1. Well that sucks bowling balls

 

Apparently the judge lives in a secluded neighborhood.

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Response to RC (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 03:16 AM

2. If by "secluded" you mean "gated" -- yeah, no doubt. nt

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Response to RC (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 03:39 AM

3. No it doesn't

This is a good thing, though the bone jarring music you hear once in a great moon from another car isn't, it's their ears that are being damaged, not mine. I get to drive away from them or vice versa. They are the ones with nerve damage in their 20's or earlier.

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Response to Scairp (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 07:44 AM

4. But I'm the one who gets to hear it at 3 every morning

My neighbour is a bartender and that's what time he gets home from his job every day. Unfortunately, my bedroom faces the road so I get it on a daily basis. When I commented on it, he basically told me to "Fuck Off". Cops won't do anything unless they are there to hear it (which is never).

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Response to OnlinePoker (Reply #4)


Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 07:57 AM

6. I don't have as much problem with cars as I do neighboring houses... nt

 

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 08:11 AM

7. What happens to the guy that shot and killed

the teen age boy at a convenience store recently in Florida for playing loud music. I read he is using the Stand your Ground Law as his defense.

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:29 AM

8. Actual Decision, if you want to read it

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2012/sc11-1166.pdf

We also find that the statute is unconstitutionally over-broad, but not unconstitutionally vague.

The key to the courts decision was the EXCEPTION to the general rule, the general rule forbade:

It is unlawful for any person operating or occupying a motor vehicle on a street or highway to operate or amplify the sound produced by a radio, tape player, or other mechanical sound making device or instrument from within the motor vehicle so that the sound is:
(a) Plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more from the motor vehicle; or
(b) Louder than necessary for the convenient hearing by persons inside the vehicle in areas adjoining churches, schools, or hospitals.


Then goes into a list of exceptions (including emergency vehicles, Police, fire, Ambulances) AND the following:

(3) The provisions of this section do not apply to motor vehicles used for business or political purposes, which in the normal course of conducting such business use sound making devices. The provisions of this subsection shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from regulating the time and manner in which such business may be operated.

Without Section 3, the court would have UPHELD the statute. The problem with Subsection (3) is that it included the term "Business" along with "Political". Without that paragraph the court would have made an exception for Political speed and thus would have upheld it as constitutional with an exception for political speech (even if the exception is a Judaical made exception). By including the term "Business" which the courts points out refers to "Commercial Speech" which the US Supreme Court has long ruled has less "free speech" rights then other types of speech (You can NOT lie about something you selling and call it "free speech", on the other hand, you can lie about Political issues).

Thus the key is NOT the noise or the sound, but that COMMERCIAL SPEECH was included in the EXCEPTIONS to the ban. Had the exceptions NOT included Commercial Speech, the court would have upheld the law.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:44 AM

9. '... we find that the “plainly audible” standard is not unconstitutionally vague ....

We now discuss whether the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad or an unreasonable restriction on the freedom of expression. The overbreadth doctrine applies when legislation criminalizes constitutionally protected activities along with unprotected activities, by sweeping too broadly and infringing upon fundamental rights ... Here, the State argues that Catalano and Schermerhorn do not have a constitutionally recognized right to play loud music, thus the statute is not subject to an overbreadth analysis. However, the right to play music, including amplified music, in public fora is protected under the First Amendment ... In short, the statute proscribes excessive sound emanating from vehicles on public thoroughfares. Subsection (3), however, excepts “motor vehicles used for business or political purposes, which in the normal course of conducting such business use <sound-making> devices” from this broad proscription ... Regardless of the intent of the Legislature, section 316.3045 is a sweeping ban on amplified sound that can be heard beyond twenty-five feet of a motor vehicle, unless that sound comes from a business or political vehicle, which presumably uses sound-making devices for the purpose of expressing commercial and political viewpoints. 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. Thus, this statute is content based because it does not apply equally to music, political speech, and advertising ... Accordingly, we find that the statute is an unreasonable restriction on First Amendment rights. Likewise, the restriction of the constitutionally protected right to amplify sound, despite the State’s acknowledgement that this level of noise is tolerable and safe if the source is a commercial or political vehicle, is not narrowly tailored to achieve the government’s interests in improving traffic safety and protecting the citizenry from excessive noise. Thus, we also find that the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad because it restricts the freedom of expression in a manner more intrusive than necessary ...'

Thanxs for the link!

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:48 AM

10. Yup, content-based restrictions re 1st am are always on shaky ground.

I don't particularly care for those loud, thumping stereos, but I recognize folks right to do so, with reasonable time / place / manner restrictions. (e.g. Not at O'dark-thirty when folks are trying to sleep.)

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:01 PM

11. The opinion clearly states that had Commercial Speech NOT been excepted, the law was good

The opinion clearly states that had Commercial Speech NOT been an exception to the general ban, the law would be constitutional. The inclusion of Commercial Speech as a EXCEPTION to the general rule is what made the law violate the First Amendment.

Thus this is a quick fix by the State legislature, just re-pass the law WITHOUT the exception for "Business". THe problem is this being Florida, I see the business community opposing the law unless it did contain that exception. Thus I suspect no quick fix.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #11)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:06 PM

12. *nod* Something like a carnival merry-go-round or the ice cream truck would run afoul of it.. n/t

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