Court lowers the boom on the ‘boom, boom boom’

The Minnesota Court of Appeals today provided a “win” to ear drums, ruling that a Minneapolis law regulating car speaker music is not unconstitutionally vague.

The court ruled in the case of Marlin McElroy, who was cited by a Minnepaolis police officer, who said he could hear the “music” or “loud bass sound” coming from McElroy’s car from more than 150 feet away. He told McElroy to turn the speakers down; he didn’t, and drove away.

The police officer caught up to him at a stop sign and ticketed him under the noise ordinance which prohibits “the operation of any electronic device used for the amplification of music or other entertainment, which is located within a motor vehicle being operated on a public street or alley, or in commercial or residential parking facilities, which is audible by any person from a distance of fifty (50) feet or more from the vehicle.”

McElroy’s attorney argues that the ordinance is vague because there was only one listener — the police officer — and that no one standing on the street testified the music was audible. But the ordinance only requires that it be audible by any person.

Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Renee L. Worke said the ordinance is not overly broad because it doesn’t ban the amplification of music, it only limits its volume. “Thus, the appellant’s enjoyment of music or entertainment is not prohibited. Further, the government has a legitimate interest in controlling the noise level on streets… limiting the amplification of sound protects the peace and quiet of other persons also using the sidewalks and streets.”