State Laws on Noise Ordinances in Florida

By Gilbert Manda
Noise from equipment such as a lawn mower is exempted when legitimately used.

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Excessive noise could cost you in Pinellas County, Florida. Sheriff deputies and the police are empowered by law to cite people for being "unreasonably loud and raucous," according to the county's ordinance. Before the ordinance, code enforcement officials used decibel meters to determine whether noise was within the acceptable level. But noise increasingly became difficult to control, leading to ordinances which are easier to enforce.

Types of Noise Banned

Noise can be both intrusive and offensive. A neighbor playing unusually loud music at 3 a.m., for example, can be irritating under any circumstances. Under the Pinellas County laws, you are not allowed to make "loud and raucous noise" in the street, public places, or residential units. It is against the law for anyone in the county to wilfuly make sound that because of "its volume level, duration, and character, annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace or safety of reasonable person". Repeated offenders can pay up to $500 in penalties.

Exceptions

There are waivers for maximum allowable noise level limits in Pinellas County given for noises made within an industrial or commercial zone by operations which were in existence in the effective date of the ordinance. But a new waiver can be issued for a period not exceeding 180 days, after which it can be renewed through a further application to the county administrator or city or town manager. You are also allowed to use equipment customary to everyday life such as lawn movers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, and flushing for as long as legitimately used. For example, leaf blowing or lawn mowing cannot be done after 6 p.m.

Construction Equipment in the Residential Areas

Construction equipment used in residential areas must have a noise reduction device or be used as recommended by the manufacturers. Construction activity is not allowed between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. from Monday to Saturday, and Sunday all day. Equipment that needs to run around the clock such as pumps or generators must be put in an acoustical enclosure from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. There are, however, exceptions if the activity creating the noise is indispensable and crucial to public welfare, health and safety.

About the Author

Gilbert Manda has written financial news since 2000. He holds a professional diploma from the London School of Journalism, a Bachelor of Science in global business and public policy from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University London.