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Florida Senate says let the music play (loudly)

6:50 PM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An effort to ban loud car stereos in Florida has been silenced.

On Friday, the Florida Senate voted to kill legislation that would have allowed police to pull you over if your car stereo could be heard more than 25 feet away.

Under the bill, police could have issued $30 tickets to offenders.

Opponents of the measure argued loud car stereos are just a momentary annoyance on the road and should not justify police intervention. They said traffic stops for loud stereos could easily escalate to more serious offenses.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, who sings in a rock and roll band, said the measure went too far.

"This is ridiculous that we're even having this debate. I don't know what kind of harm we're talking about by having loud music but it certainly doesn't rise to the kind of penalty that we're talking about here."

Senators supporting the idea vented their frustrations with drivers who boom their stereos so loud that it shakes the windows.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said he likes loud music in his car but thinks some drivers get carried away.

"That doesn't mean that when I'm in town or stopped at a traffic light somewhere that I want to hear the guy next to me, Boom, Boom, Booming. Turn that thing down. So I think this is a good thing."

Others argued loud car stereos cause safety problems on the road.

"There is a public safety issue here. If you are at a red light, stopped and you have a booming, loud vehicle next to you, you will not be able to hear an emergency vehicle and so there is public safety, it is good public policy," said Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne.

Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, echoed that point.

"You may not hear ambulances coming in your car. So if you're the one who says we don't kill anybody, well, it may not kill somebody in your car for playing loud music but it can kill the next guy where the ambulance can't get there because you don't get out of the way."

Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, tried to amend the bill to so police could not pull you over unless the music could be heard 100 feet away, but her effort failed. Then she tried to persuade the whole Senate to vote down the measure.

"I like my music loud and I know other people who are my age who like their music loud too and so 25 feet is not very far."

Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, called loud stereos just an annoyance. He said it seemed like lawmakers were trying to target people who like loud music and that was not fair.

"I continue to be against these (types of bills) because I feel it's pointed and directed at one type of person and that's the type of person like me who likes to hear their music loud."

Sen. Wilton Simpson pushed for the bill after the Florida Supreme Court struck down a similar law last year. That law was ruled unconstitutional because it made exceptions for blasting business or political content.

The measure needed a majority of senators to pass, but it died on a tie vote.

Dave Heller

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