First Amendment

Florida Supremes Overturn Ban on Loud Car Music, Rule for Timberlake-Blasting Lawyer


A lawyer ticketed for playing a Justin Timberlake song at high volume has won a challenge to a Florida law banning car music that is “plainly audible” from 25 feet or more.

St. Petersburg lawyer Richard Catalano was ticketed in 2007 while listening to the song while driving to work in Pinellas County. On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled on behalf of Catalano and another ticketed driver, report the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times. “The Florida Supreme Court is bringing sexy back,” the Times writes.

Catalano told the Tampa Bay Times he has been approached by several people who have paid fines under the law and want to file a class action for reimbursement.

The problem with the law was not the “plainly audible” standard, the Tampa Bay Times says. Rather the court was troubled because the law made an exception for vehicles used “for business or political purposes.” The differentiation was an impermissible content restriction that violated the First Amendment, the court said in its opinion (PDF).

The “plainly audible” standard, on the other hand, was not unconstitutionally vague, the court said. “To withstand constitutional scrutiny,” the court said, “statutes do not have to set determinate standards or provide mathematical certainty. … Although it is true that each police officer may have different auditory sensitivities, the ‘plainly audible’ beyond 25 feet standard provides fair warning of the prohibited conduct.”

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