Florida Drivers Have First Amendment Right to Blast Music, Appeals Court Rules

Categories: Crime
Unless this system comes with a big bag of coke, this setup is your constitutional right in Florida.
If you're in Florida blasting obnoxious music from your car way louder than you need to, well, that's your First Amendment right, according to a recent appellate court ruling.

In Marion County, Shannon Montgomery learned that the hard way. After being pulled over for rocking out while driving, the cops also found a healthy amount of cocaine and weed in his car.

"Shannon Montgomery exercised his right to play loud music from his car with great enthusiasm -- enough in fact to draw the attention of the police who pulled him over for a noise violation," Chief Judge Richard Orfinger writes in the court's opinion. "When it was discovered that his driver's license was suspended, he was arrested and his car was searched."

That led Montgomery to face charges of trafficking cocaine, possessing marijuana, and possessing drug paraphernalia -- all stemming from a Florida law that makes it illegal for a vehicle's sound system to be "plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet or more from the motor vehicle."

The term "plainly audible" isn't described in Florida law, which led Montgomery's lawyers to argue the law was vague, but the court didn't agree with that claim -- the opinion states the law "provides fair notice of the prohibited conduct..."

On a challenge of First Amendment rights, however, the court agreed on that point -- loud and obnoxious music is protected speech, and the law is "unconstitutionally overbroad."

In fact, the court ruled that the law discriminates against certain types of speech, giving commercial speech more protection.

"In this case, music or a religious message amplified so as to be heard twenty-five feet away from a vehicle would violate the statute, while a sound truck blaring 'Eat at Joe's' or 'Vote for Smith' plainly audible at a great distance, would be authorized," the opinion states. "Clearly, the statute discriminates on the basis of content, not noise."

Montgomery wasn't exactly the victor in the ruling, though -- the drug charges are going to stick.

The court says the police officer who pulled Montgomery over had no way of knowing he was enforcing an unconstitutional law, so "applying the exclusionary rule in this case would deprive the State of the benefit of evidence obtained as a result of the officer's good faith conduct."

[h/t The Newspaper]

Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Matthew Hendley on Facebook and on Twitter: @MatthewHendley.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

So, what does that mean for Michael Dunn, who shot and  killed the teen at a Jacksonville, FL gas station? Will justice prevail and this man be sentenced for murder one?


I'm not against noise ordinances, but this one was extremely vague, and should be re-written.


Southern Cape lawyer arrested for stealing over a millionA Southern Capelawyer has been arrested for stealing about R1.5 million from the Attorney’s Trust Fund. Jacobus Grobler appeared in the Riversdale Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. The Police’s Bernadine Steyn said he was granted R5,000 bail. “Bail conditions are to report to SAPS twice a day and his passport was handed in,” she said.


Wow - a ruling that actually makes sense, both in law and logic.  Way to go.  Now if we could just get that kind of action in the 3rd and 4th DCA all the time...

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault