Tampa votes to ban loud car music | Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
It seems that the esteemed Tampa City Council gave preliminary approval Thursday to an ordinance that would impose hefty fines and even jail time on drivers who “blast their music systems to the annoyance of their neighbors.”
The ordinance would apply 24 hours a day and cover vehicles that emit sounds clearly audible from 50 feet away. Tampa police will enforce the ordinance (imagine that!!) with the help of the city’s Code Enforcement staff.
Sen. Arthenia Joyner, the Tampa Democrat who represents many of the people asking the council for relief on Thursday, voted against the bill because she felt its focus on loud music amounted to racial profiling of black and Hispanics. She also argued that music booming from passing cars is a momentary inconvenience.
Councilman Frank Reddick, who demanded the noise ordinance two weeks ago, was undeterred. “Make it strong,” Reddick said. “Let them challenge it.”
Under the current draft, first-time violators would get a $250 ticket, $400 for a second offense. The third offense could mean a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail.
Those punishments proved too much for Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, who voted against the ordinance. Montelione argued that jail time is too heavy-handed.
Here’s the deal, folks. The Fourth Amendment provides that we have the right to be LEFT ALONE. Cops and legislators are constantly trying to find ways around that, so that they can search you, your home, your car – and have that search upheld in court. I’m not condoning possession of something you should not have, but I am a big proponent of the protection of our Constitutional rights against government intrusion.
In my opinion, this is exactly what is going on here: JAIL TIME for a loud speaker? If you get taken to jail, then the coppers get to do an “inventory search” of your car before it gets towed. Viola, a perfectly legal search. Then the black folks and Latino folks who are being targeted by this, well, they get their car back with the seats ripped up, car doors pulled apart, the works. [Don’t tell me that does not happen; when you have countless people sit across from you and tell you that same story over and over, you start to believe it.] It seems as if Sen. Joyner and Councilwoman Montelione caught on to what this is all about.
My father always rhetorically pondered, “Where do my rights end, and your rights begin?” (He was fond of then holding out his fist, shaking it and saying “Right on the end of your nose!”) This is well beyond an issue of common decency and respect for others. We know government can’t “legislate morality”, or should not try to do so. If this noise issue is so bad, then a fine at most would solve the problem, and I’m not saying I agree to that in every circumstance. But this being able to pull someone over and take them to jail for playing loud music smacks of unreasonable governmental intrusion, which will result in – surprise – Tampa Police making more drug arrests.
So, all I can to is advise all you young uns to turn down your stereo . . . and the Fourth Amendment dies a little bit more. Sorry, gang. I’ll see you at the funeral.