Pinellas deputies want residents to report loud car stereos

When another vehicle’s stereo volume drowns out the sound of your own, it’s not only too loud, it’s illegal, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The nuisance is what prompted the agency’s Lower the Boom program, making it easier for drivers to report violations quickly.

“The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is seeking your help in identifying these violators,” the agency announced this week. Deputies said all they need from those who wish to report potential violators is a completed online form, which can be found at pcsoweb.com/operation-lower-the-boom.

They require the following information: Tag number of the potential violator, the vehicle’s color, street address or intersection where the loud noise occurred, and a description of the problem.

"When the noise is so loud you are vibrating someone else's car, you may have emergency vehicles, it's hard for people to hear those things," said Spencer Gross, Public Information Officer for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "It's important to hear that."

Once someone reports a vehicle in violation of the noise ordinance, PCSO reaches out to the registered driver.

"We send a letter warning the registered owner of the vehicle that we received a complaint and we provide them with the information about the county ordinance," Gross said.

The second time a vehicle is reported, a deputy pays the owner a visit.

"For us to write a citation here in Pinellas County, a deputy or law enforcement officer has to witness the violation," Gross said.

You've no doubt felt it, as you stopped at a red light or heard it driving down the street. That familiar low rumble, booming from a vehicle nearby.

"This car noise is a nasty thing that people tend to underestimate," said Judy Ellis, founder of Noise-Free Florida.

Ellis said she hears it all too often around her south St. Pete neighborhood.

"It is unhealthy it is unsafe," Ellis said. "I watched a car just yesterday. There was a medic 1 vehicle behind him with sirens and more lights than I have ever seen on an emergency vehicle. And, for blocks, he couldn’t get this car out of his way."

Ellis, who teamed up with PCSO to launch "Operation Lower the Boom" in 2012 fully supports the reporting system.

"It gives the sufferer a sense of having taken back some control of his life," Ellis said.

Michael Kushmider, owner of VIP Audio and Security, worries the reporting system could lead to a new set of problems.

"I see what they're trying to do but I just think it's kind of the wrong approach. It's just a tattle tale thing and it's just going to create more problems," Kushmider said. "I might have a problem with you, I can go out there right now and get your tag off of your van and say you came into my business with the radio too loud. Who's to make that decision?"

Tayvon Watkins doesn't mind anyone's music during the day.

"We all gotta live here and we all gotta be here so I think we should police ourselves," Watkins said.

But once the sun goes down, he doesn't mind some peace and quiet.

"There is a time and place for everything so you know, late night, and everybody's trying to rest up and get ready for the next day, you come through playing loud music, it's probably a problem," Watkins said.

The Pinellas County noise ordinance is described as the following:

No person shall make, continue, permit, or cause to be made or continued:

- Any unreasonably loud and raucous noise; or

- Any noise which unreasonably disturbs, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace, or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensitivity; or

- Any noise which exceeds the maximum allowable limits set forth in this article.

Factors which shall be considered in determining whether a violation of subsection (A) above exists shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

- The volume of the noise;

- The intensity of the noise;

- The volume and intensity of the background noise, if any;

- The nature and zoning of the area from which the sound emanates and the area where it is received or perceived;

- The duration of the noise;

- The time of the day or night the noise occurs;

- Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant, and

- Whether a noise complaint, as set forth in section 58-446, has been received by the county.

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