Saturday, November 17, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas deputies take aim at loud car stereos

PINELLAS – Shawn Morrison, owner of Car Tunes in Largo, recalls customers proudly waving tickets they received for noise violations when coming into his East Bay Boulevard car stereo shop.

"Back in the 90s, when they were giving out $35 tickets, it used to be prestigious to walk in and say ‘I got three tickets in the past three weeks,’" Morrison said. "It was a status symbol."

Now though, drivers in Pinellas County might be less inclined to celebrate their tickets as fines have increased, as has awareness of a program aimed at helping citizens report noisy drivers.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office brought renewed attention to "Operation Lower the Boom" this week when the program was mentioned in a bi-weekly newsletter.

The six-year-old initiative allows citizens to use an online form to report drivers they believe are violating the county’s noise ordinance. It began in 2012 when the Sheriff’s Office partnered with Noise Free Florida to reduce the number of drivers who blast music, which can drown out other car stereos and emergency sirens.

"We hadn’t talked about much lately and wanted to throw it out as a reminder," Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Gross said. "For the most part, the goal of the initiative is to bring awareness to the problem and get compliance from potential offenders."

Gross said citizens who witness someone they believe to be in violation of the county’s noise ordinance can visit the Operation Lower the Boom page on the PCSO website. There, they’ll fill out a form including details like make and model of the car, tag number, location and description of the incident.

The Sheriff’s Office will then contact the vehicle’s registered owner by mail with details of the ordinance, letting them know they might be in violation. A second report for the same vehicle will prompt an in-person visit from a deputy, Gross said. Complaints can be submitted anonymously, but any information included in the complaint will be public record.

Deputies, however, can’t issue a citation unless they witness someone violating the ordinance. Gross said the program is more about deterrence than enforcement.

"The goal is to notify people," he said. "There are probably circumstances where people don’t know their noise affects others."

The county’s noise ordinance allows deputies to issue citations when they witness cars playing music at "unreasonable volume," Gross said. That can include a number of factors, such as where the violation occurs (residential or business area) and the time of day. Generally, though, if another driver’s music drowns out your own, or you can hear their radio in your car or home with your windows closed, they might be in violation of the noise ordinance.

"I always tell our customers just be smart with this," Morrison said. "When you drive into your neighborhood, don’t have that thing jamming. If you’re at a red light, be smart and turn that thing down. You don’t know if the guy next to you is a cop or an elderly person who is gonna be freaked out."

Comments
Plant City police: Fleeing driver kills man as he walks to work

Plant City police: Fleeing driver kills man as he walks to work

The driver is in custody, but the fugitive who sparked Friday’s deadly incident is still being sought.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pinellas deputies investigating death at Clearwater home

Pinellas deputies investigating death at Clearwater home

Deputies responded to a deceased person call about 9:30 p.m. Thursday at 1506 Meadow Dale Drive in unincorporated Clearwater.
Updated: 8 hours ago
Police didn’t think man was seriously injured in Pinellas Park crash. Hours later, he died.

Police didn’t think man was seriously injured in Pinellas Park crash. Hours later, he died.

A Seminole man died after he struck a traffic pole in Pinellas Park on Thursday morning.
Updated: 9 hours ago

DCF: No mistakes in case of 4-year-old girl whose mother drowned her

A review of the child protective investigation of the mother of Je'Hyrah Daniels says there was no evidence to show the girl was at risk of harm before her death.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Dragster driver Katarina Moller, 24, killed in crash at Sebring raceway

Dragster driver Katarina Moller, 24, killed in crash at Sebring raceway

24-year-old driver Katarina Moller of Sarasota died Thursday night. She was a popular racer at local short tracks and a jet dragster driver for Larsen Motorsports, according to track officials.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Hernando commissioner cuts deal on prostitution-related charges, walks away with a clean record and a $729 bill

Hernando commissioner cuts deal on prostitution-related charges, walks away with a clean record and a $729 bill

Nick Nicholson says he'll try to get his commission seat back.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Firefighters discover three murder victims in burning Tampa house

Firefighters discover three murder victims in burning Tampa house

Deputies are looking for a man caught on surveillance video carrying gas can outside the house. The bodies were found Thursday by firefighters.
Updated: 11 hours ago
White supremacist gang members in Tampa Bay charged in gun, drug ring

White supremacist gang members in Tampa Bay charged in gun, drug ring

Investigators say the suspects are connected to the Unforgiven and United Aryan Brotherhood gangs.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Review places no blame on child welfare system in fatal dog attack on Clearwater infant

Review places no blame on child welfare system in fatal dog attack on Clearwater infant

A review of 7-month-old Khloe Williams' contact with the child welfare system provides new details on her path to foster care and the tragic dog attack that killed her.
Updated: 12 hours ago
In Tampa, man embarks on life after years on death row

In Tampa, man embarks on life after years on death row

Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin knows what it's like to be accused. He spent 10 years on death row before new evidence, including DNA tests, helped set him free. Now he must adjust to life on the outside.
Published: 11/16/18