We’ve seen multiple examples around the country of traffic stops for non-safety-related infractions that turn deadly for those in the vehicle and sometimes for officers. Many of those who object to these “pretextual” stops say motorists of color are disproportionately stopped, and these stops are often used as an excuse for police to search for drugs and other contraband.
Some law enforcement agencies no longer pull over drivers for things like expired license plates, broken taillights and similar violations. Florida, however, has added to the list of things that can cause a driver to be pulled over, potentially searched and ticketed with a citation for over $100.
What does the law say?
Last year, a law took effect that prohibits playing music in a vehicle (including open carts and motorcycles) that is “plainly audible” more than 25 feet away or “[l]ouder than necessary for the convenient hearing by persons inside the vehicle” in residential and other areas. The law, at least according to its sponsor in the legislature, was a response to “popup” parties where people gather in their cars and other vehicles and blast music.
However, drivers report sometimes being stopped and cited multiple times a day for allegedly driving with their music too loud with no proof of how far it can be heard. Further, businesses that shuttle tourists and other beach-goers in open carts say it’s hard for them to operate under the new law. One driver called the law an excuse for “more opportunities to pull people over.”
Black drivers are disproportionately cited for violating the law
The data available on drivers cited under the new law through the end of last year shows that over a third of the drivers who received these citation tickets were Black, even though they comprise just 16% of eligible drivers in the state. More current data isn’t available because of a follow-up law that prohibits public disclosure of this information.
If you believe an officer has acted illegally in searching your vehicle or has wrongfully cited you under this law or for any other moving or nonmoving violation, having experienced legal guidance can help you protect your rights.