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Noise Ordinances of Cities and Counties in Florida.
Posted on:Saturday, November 29, 2014

Local governments are now adopting noise ordinances to regulate loud noises. During 2012, Florida's state law was struck down as unconstitutional. Local governments are adopting local ordinances which usually take into consideration the FL Supreme Court's reasoning, but the ordinances still present issues.

Two common methods of measuring noise levels are by: (1) subjective (nuisance) measurements; and (2) performance based measurements. Subjective/nuisance measurement based codes have in some cases been found to be unconstitutional. This is due to their lack of specific wording, and not clearly stating what in fact is a violation. The Florida Supreme Court did provide guidance in this area when it decided State v. Catalano, during 2012 and, therefore, most ordinances passed after the Florida Supreme Court's ruling should withstand a constitutional attack to the subjective component. The performance measurement based codes are codes which have more often been upheld by the courts. They are based on a very clear and specific statement of what is a violation. Performance measurement based codes contain very specific guidelines for enforcement. They usually also contain a table which will state the allowable decibel levels and mention the use of decibel meter readers by enforcement officers.

Noises which classify as disturbances are regulated by the respective local governments noise ordinances. For example, often a noise disturbance is sound that meets any of these three criteria: (1) Disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; (2) Exceeds the sound level limit set forth in the ordinance, as measured by a sound level meter; and (3) Is plainly audible, which is defined as noise that can be heard a minimum of 200 feet from the property line of the source of the noise - This type of noise includes amplified music, musical instruments, televisions, radios and non-amplified human voices ("yelling, shouting, whistling, hooting or generally creating a racket"). Exemptions are often made for special events and permitting processes are written in the ordinance or the ordinance refers the reader to an area where permits are covered.

Penalties vary but may not exceed $500/offense. The most often seen penalties are: 1st OFFENSE: Warning Notice, in effect for 365 days, no fine. 2nd OFFENSE: Within 365 days of the Warning Notice, issue a Civil Citation with a $250 fine. 3rd OFFENSE: Within 365 days of the first Civil Citation, issues a Civil Citation with a $500 fine 4th OFFENSE: Within 365 days of the second Civil Citation, issue a Civil Citation with a mandatory court appearance, and a fine to be determined up to $500

Koberlein Law Offices has been asked to write noise ordinances for local governments and has spent considerable time researching the legal history concerning the constitutional issues on both sides (enforcing and defending) noise ordinances. "Enforcing Noise Ordinances in Florida" by Patrick Dooley was a contributing source.


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