The Florida Constitution, states that “it shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate provisions shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water pollution and excessive and unnecessary noise.” (Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 7). Florida regulates conduct in public places through Florida Statute §877.03, which lists activities that our Florida legislators consider “disorderly” or a breach of the peace. The blog posts examines the criminal regulation of noise and disorderly conduct crimes.
Pursuant to Florida Statute §877.03,
“[w]hoever commits such acts as are of (1) a nature to corrupt the public morals, or (2) outrage the sense of public decency, or (3) affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or (4) engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Some typical examples of disorderly conduct include excessive noise, loitering in certain areas, disturbance of the peace, inciting a riot, obstructing traffic, and use of extremely obscene or abusive language. Paragraph Three describes acts that “affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them,” thus including noise-causing activity as conduct that may be actionable as disorderly or a breach of the peace.
Florida law limits the sound levels of motor vehicles. The limits are from 72 to 90 decibels, depending on the type, speed and age of the vehicle, and apply within fifty (50) feet. It’s also illegal in Florida to modify an exhaust system to make the vehicle louder. The law exempts certain vehicles like emergency and racing vehicles. Those who violate this statute are subject to a traffic ticket. In 2012, the Florida Supreme Court overturned a state law that made it illegal to play music on a vehicle radio that can be heard from a distance of 25 feet away.
Let’s not forget that offenders may also be subject to city and county fines for disorderly conduct. The Key West Municipal Code purports to establish specific permissible noise limits in order to provide for the abatement, prevention and prohibition of excessive and unnecessary noise so as to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of the City of Key West. It further states that it shall be unlawful for any person(s), to permit, cause, allow, amplify, create, emit, or sustain unreasonably excessive noise on any property, including air space thereof, located in the City of Key West. Unreasonably excessive noise shall be that noise which exceeds the noise limitations as defined by the Municipal Code.
If you have questions about disorderly conduct or breach of the peace, or some other violation especially involving excessive noise under Florida law, call Alan Fowler, an experienced Key West criminal defense attorney, for a consultation at 305.912.2516.