Warning from Jacksonville police: ‘Lower your radio volume’

House Bill 1435, which cracks down on ‘pop-up’ events, also allows local govts to impose more-stringent regulations for radios

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office offered a warning for drivers on its Twitter page Tuesday — specifically, “Lower your radio volume!”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office offered a warning for drivers on its Twitter page Tuesday — specifically, “Lower your radio volume!”

The Sheriff’s Office makes reference to a Florida statute that will once again become enforceable starting July 1.

“What does this mean? It means that you will have to listen to your radio at a volume that is NOT plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more,” the Sheriff’s Office writes.

Gov. Ron DeSantis in May signed a measure, which seeks to crack down on unsanctioned “pop-up” events put together through social media. Lawmakers passed the bill (HB 1435) in March, after incidents in places such as Volusia County. It comes after the Florida Supreme Court ruled a prior version was too vague.

As lawmakers considered the bill, House sponsor Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, described it as a way to control events that have become “invasions,” shutting down coastal communities.

The bill, which drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, will allow authorities to declare areas as “special event zones” because of unpermitted events anticipated to attract 50 or more people and disrupt traffic. The zones could blanket entire cities.

The bill will double fines for non-criminal traffic infractions in the event zones and allow police to impound vehicles for up to 72 hours for criminal and non-criminal traffic violations.

The measure also will allow local governments to impose more-stringent regulations than what’s in state law about vehicle radios or other sound-making devices.

HB 1435 reads: “Code and Traffic Enforcement; Authorizes designation of special event zone; provides requirements & enhanced penalties for certain infraction; authorizes impound of motor vehicle of person who commits certain infraction or violation; limits impoundment term; requires motor vehicle to be released upon payment of impound costs & fees; authorizes sheriff to grant temporary authority to law enforcement officer; provides for recovery of costs & fees associated with designating & enforcing special event zone; revises types of soundmaking devices or instruments subject to prohibition against operating or amplifying sound from motor vehicle; prohibits operation or amplification in areas adjoining private residences.”

Speaking with Jacksonville residents about the bill, some say they’re happy about the enforcement. Others have their concerns.

“I feel like it’s messed up. I feel like they’re targeting people,” resident Dwohn Leonard told News4JAX. “I mean, why can’t we play our music that loud if they make the speakers that loud?”

Noah Prior supports the statute. He lives in downtown Jacksonville and says he is woken up frequently by music blasting from car speakers.

“You can hear them at all hours of the day and night. They’ll stop over here at the light, the red light, and you can hear the music blaring,” Prior said. “It’s a problem.”

The statute notes specifically that a person “operating or occupying a motor vehicle on a street or highway may not operate or amplify the sound produced by a radio, tape player, compact disc player, portable music or video player, cellular telephone, tablet computer, laptop computer, stereo, television, musical instrument, or other mechanical or electronic sound making device or instrument, which sound emanates from 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 private residences, churches, schools, or hospitals.”

Leonard thinks the guidelines are too broad for interpretation.

“When they say plainly audible — that’s basically an excuse to pull anyone over because if you have your windows down and your music up even half way, plainly audible would be even somebody on the street being able to hear your music,” Leondard said.

Prior on the other hand hopes that the statute will limit the noise he deals with on a daily basis.

“It’s a nuisance. I wish it would go away,” Prior said. “I know it’s not easy for JSO to be at all places at all times.”

News4JAX requested comment from the Sheriff’s Office. It reads:

About the Authors:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.