Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Brooksville council to consider revising ordinance aimed at loud car stereos

BROOKSVILLE — Owners of loud car stereos who drive the streets of Brooksville may once again face fines if the City Council agrees Monday night to amend a 7-year-old ordinance.

Two years ago, Brooksville officials chose to stop enforcing the vehicle noise ordinance, which had been passed to give police the ability to cite motorists whose vehicles' audio systems produced "clearly audible" sounds at 25 feet, while a case challenging a similar state law made its way to the Florida Supreme Court.

That case was decided in December, with justices ruling that the state's noise law was arbitrary and vague in that it prohibited certain forms of speech, such as loud car stereos, while allowing exceptions for vehicles that are used "for business or political purposes."

This spring, the Florida Legislature considered a bill to make the state law comply with the court's decision, but it failed to pass. For Brooksville and other municipalities that crafted noise ordinances after the state's, the court ruling provided an interesting legal twist.

While the high court nixed the law's constitutionality based on its arbitrary standards, it did not take issue with the "plainly audible" provision.

Brooksville Police Capt. Rick Hankins said that city attorneys decided simply to remove language in the city's ordinance that made exceptions for business or political purposes.

Violators will be charged according to the penalties adopted in 2006. Fines are $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $750 for a third offense.

Hankins said that having the ordinance in place again will allow his department to deal with a problem that has grown during the time the city has not been able to issue citations.

"It's a big nuisance for a lot of residents, especially at night," Hankins said. "We normally get between two and three complaints every day, but we haven't been able to do anything about it. Having that ordinance in place will help a lot."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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