The Tampa City Council approved an ordinance on a 6-0 vote on Thursday that would sanction drivers who are blasting audible music from 50 feet away. The ordinance includes possible jail time for third time offenders.
Reacting to complaints from residents, particularly elderly African-Americans in East Tampa, the Council passed the measure. There is a $150 fine for first-time offenders, a $250 fine for two-time offenders, and a $450 fine for third-time offenders, and the possibility of 60 days in jail — by far the most contentious piece of the ordinance.
"There are a lot of people who agree that this should not be an arrestable offense," said Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, citing messages that she's received from the public in person and on social media. She said having someone arrested for violating a noise ordinance puts a burden on a number of local and state agencies that are busy with more serious crimes. "I don't think we need to go as far as putting them in jail to really send a message."
Montelione emphasized that she thought an ordinance was necessary, but just could not support adding jail time to it, especially after City Attorney Rebecca Kert suggested that in all probability a judge would probably chose not to sentence a third-time offender to jail, since it wasn't a crime but simply a violation of a city ordinance.