TIFTON -- The Tifton Police Department is cracking down on those who play their music too loudly.
Both state law and a city ordinance outlaw excessively loud music. While the state law bans music or other noise that can be heard 100 feet from a vehicle, the local ordinance is more strict. The city noise ordinance specifically outlaws noise which can be heard more than 50 feet away from any vehicle, building or structure from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. It also bans any noise which disturbs the peace or makes noise "at any time with louder volume than is necessary for convenient hearing for the person who is in the room, vehicle or chamber." Anyone willingly listening to the music or other noise is also in violation according to the city ordinance.
That means that loud music or noise coming from homes or stereos outside of vehicles are subject to the local ordinance. Lt. Steve Hyman of the Tifton Police Department said that police usually charge offenders with a state violation when they are riding in a car and charge offenders in parked cars or houses with a violation of the local ordinance. Those who violate the noise laws in vehicles usually suffer a $91 fine while those who have a "disorderly house" with loud music are charged with a $84 fine.
"They need to have enough respect to keep their music turned down," said Chief Jim Smith.
Smith said that the police will be listening and watching for loud music to put a stop to those who disturb the peace. He said that he has received a number of complaints about racket coming from passing vehicles in residential areas, particularly from school-age teens since Tift County schools went back in session Friday.
"We're already starting to hear the same complaints that we hear every year," Smith said. "'They come by my house and have the bass so loud that it's rattling the windows.'"
He said that many complaints are coming from the areas of 20th Street and Eighth Street during the daylight hours. There are also many complaints coming in about the mall area at night from people parked or cruising with their stereos blaring. Those who loiter around the mall in their cars could also be subject to a criminal trespassing by motor vehicle charge.
"It's not just local kids," Smith said. "It's kids who come in from surrounding counties."
He said the mall problem goes beyond loud music, but also includes the overcrowding caused by teens "cruising" the parking lot.
"The criminal trespass by vehicle has helped, but with the congestion it only takes a little to cause gridlock," he said.
The police will be placing officers in areas where they receive complaints such as residential areas and the mall to listen for loud music.
"Out around the mall on the weekends, you can just stand there and pinpoint it," Smith said.
He said that one of the things that makes loud music doubly offensive is that the lyrics of the music are often filled with profanity.
"A certain portion of it is very vulgar," he said.
Although many of those playing their music too loudly are teenagers, adults are often responsible for the nuisance too.
"We know and understand that people put a lot of time and money in this and it's a hobby," said Hyman. "There's a time and a place to show off your stereo."
Hyman said that residential areas and the mall are not the places where those stereos should be cranked up to maximum volume.
The police are also looking for a number of other infractions, including window-tinting violations, blue light violations and people parking in handicap parking spaces.
This year the state passed a new law banning dark window tinting with a light transmission restriction of less than 32 percent. The new law applies to both residents and non-residents, a difference from old anti-tinting laws. Factory tinting is still allowed because it has a higher light transmission restriction than the legal minimum.
Another new law bans blue lights on vehicles such as the decorative lights some car owners install underneath their cars to light the street. Other colors are still allowed for decoration, but blue lights are reserved for law enforcement.
The police are looking out for handicap parking violators after receiving a number of complaints from people who saw others illegally parking in the spaces.
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