Tampa Bay can turn the dials up, says the St. Petersburg Times. An appellate court has declared the state statute allowing police to ticket booming car stereos unconstitutional under the First Amendment. It a victory for St. Petersburg corporate lawyer Richard Catalano, whose 3 1/2-year fight against the state law prohibiting loud noise started when he got a $73.50 ticket for blasting Justin Timberlake from his 2003 Infiniti G35.
Yesterday, a court handling appeals for 14 counties decided that the statue is not “content-neutral” — in other words, it decides what noise is and isn’t allowed. A candidate has the right to blare political messages from one vehicle, for example, but the booming stereo from another could be considered illegal. “There is no compelling government interest requiring disparate treatment of commercial or political speech vs. amplified music,” the court ruled.