There are no statewide laws in the state of Florida regarding noise violations. However, the Sunshine State allows local governments to enforce their own laws regarding noise. These, and the decibel level limits, vary from place to place. We cover the rules for some of the largest municipalities in Florida.
State Law and Constitutional Rights
There is currently no state law regarding noise in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court deemed such a law to be unconstitutional in 2012, saying it unreasonably restricted free speech rights. The law's main problem was its unequal enforcement of infractions. For example, a political campaign could play loud audio over a loudspeaker, but someone sitting in their motor vehicle listening to loud music would likely receive a ticket. Florida law instead allows local jurisdictions to enforce their own noise ordinance laws, which vary from place to place.
According to the Florida Constitution, it is the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. "Adequate provisions shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water pollution and excessive and unnecessary noise." This means the state views quiet as a constitutional right. However, Florida leaves noise ordinance enforcement up to county and municipal governments.
Miami-Dade County Noise Pollution Laws
Miami-Dade County makes it unlawful to make unnecessary, excessive or unusual noises within 100 feet of the grounds and premises of hospitals and schools. Generally, no one should make any loud noises to annoy someone else on a street, sidewalk or in an adjacent structure. Loud, unnecessary, excessive or unusual noises from a sound-making device or from musicians that are audible at a distance of 100 feet from a car or a building also violate this law.
Music from any establishment played between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. is unlawful unless it is in a closed building and inaudible from outside. A business that violates this ordinance twice faces the revocation or termination of their business license. This law does not apply to events in, or on, city-owned facilities or properties.
Miami-Dade Rules for Construction Equipment
Companies cannot use construction equipment between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on weekdays, Sundays or holidays if it disturbs a residential district or noise-sensitive area. Exemptions to this rule include public service utilities conducting emergency work and work carried out with the city manager's permission. The noise level of this equipment must not exceed 0.79 dBA (weighted decibels).
Miami-Dade considers the same violation to be a separate one if it occurs again after 24 hours. The emission of gases and steam is unlawful unless it does not produce disturbing noises.
Noise Control Ordinances in Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County has rules regarding how loud a sound source can be that differ among residential, nonresidential and commercial zones. It gauges sound sources as too loud by the time of day they occur in unincorporated residential areas. The highest sound level allowed from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. is 60 decibels in urban areas and 55 decibels in rural areas. From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., the maximum allowable level goes down to 55 decibels in urban areas and 50 decibels in rural areas. Overnight, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., the sound level must be below 50 decibels everywhere.
Palm Beach County prohibits the operation of any machinery, including demolition, construction, excavating equipment, power tools or other semi-mechanical devices, or conducting construction that makes sound across an inhabited residential area between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday. It does not permit construction activity on Sundays, except for pumps or machinery that must be in operation 24 hours a day. Mechanical equipment and generators permanently operating in any zone have their own limits – 60 decibels for mechanical equipment and 75 decibels for permanent generators.
Noise Control Ordinances Orange County
Florida's Orange County regulates noise pollution from nonresidential properties and disturbances from residential properties or establishments serving alcohol in unincorporated areas. It is a breach of the peace to adversely affect residential properties. Noise pollution in Orange County must meet certain criteria:
- It disturbs a reasonable person of their normal sensitivities.
- It emanates from a nonresidential or residential property under construction.
- Exceeds allowable sound limits as determined by the county.
Exceptions to the rules include:
- Lawn maintenance from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
- Train or car activity operating under federal laws and regulations.
- Aircraft and airport activity operating under federal laws and regulations.
- Generators used during, or due to, an emergency.
- Construction or demolition operations, permitted by the county between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Noise Complaints in Sarasota County
According to Sarasota County law, no one may allow, cause, make or permit amplified sound in a building not entirely closed between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. if it measures from beyond the property line at levels of 65 dBA. These restrictions also apply between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Thursday through Sunday nights, and between 11:59 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., no one may allow, cause, make or permit a continuous sound source that measures from beyond the property line at levels of 75 dBA.
Any alteration, construction, drilling, demolition, repair, land clearing or filling operations cannot occur between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekdays or 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. on weekends or holidays. There is an exception for public service utility emergency and permitted work by the municipality. A person cannot operate power tools like a saw, drill, grinder or garden tool between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on weekdays and 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., unless the work occurs inside a fully enclosed structure.
- Orange County Government Florida: Noise
- Town of Palm Beach: Ordinance No. 18-10
- NoiseFree.org: Miami-Dade County, Florida Noise Related Regulations
- Find Law: Florida Constitution--1968 Revision Art. II, Section 7. Natural Resources and Scenic Beauty
- Herald Tribune: Florida Supreme Court Rejects State Noise Law as Unconstitutional
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.