Is it a Felony to Create Excessive Noise in Louisiana?
Excessive noise is a crime that falls under disturbing the peace in Louisiana.
Recently, Baton Rouge’s noise ordinance was revised due to ongoing complaints. Complaints made it clear that people of color were being charged and fined at a much higher rate. Originally, violating laws with excessive sound could warrant a misdemeanor charge.
However, the ordinance was revised to strike potential jail time and consider excessive noise as a violation.
Do you want to know more about this Louisiana crime? Keep reading to find out what excessive noise is, what must be proven for a charge, and potential penalties.
What Is Excessive Noise in Louisiana?
As frowned upon by the law, excessive noise emanation applies to several different potential noise sources. For sound amplification systems that emanate unreasonably loud or excessive noise or sound like to cause annoyance or inconvenience to people with ordinary senses, the following must both exist for a violation:
- The system is located in or on a vehicle near a highway, public park, or public street
- The sound emanating from the system can be heard at a distance of more than 25 feet and exceeds 85 decibels.
The law does not apply to horns, alarms, and other warning devices with the purpose of signaling danger or to summon law enforcement.
Loud and raucous noise created by construction work that’s near or in a residential area mustn’t go beyond the hours of 7 am and sunset, Monday through Saturday. The only exception is when the construction work is urgent for the interest of public safety. Still, they must obtain permission from the director of public works.
Mechanical Loudspeaker Laws
There are a few specific laws that apply to their use for individuals that use mechanical loudspeakers.
First, no mechanical loudspeaker is permitted to be operated within 150 feet of a residence’s property line. The exception to this rule falls between 8 am and sunset. If it is operated within those times, it must be shared in a local newspaper.
Sound amplifiers cannot emit raucous, loud, or disturbing noises so as to interfere with people’s daily lives, peace, or comfort. They can’t cause traffic congestion or a congregation of crowds, either. Likewise, a sound amplifier or mechanical loudspeaker must not obstruct any public alley, sidewalk, street, or highway.
Lastly, these noisemakers cannot operate within 150 feet of the following:
- Schools in session
- Other facilities that provide surgical care
- Nursing homes
What Must Be Proven for an Excessive Noise Violation?
Since the revision, there are 2 components to prove in charging someone with an excessive noise violation.
First, the sound must exceed 85 decibels. Second, it must exceed this level at a distance that’s more than 25 feet.
New decibel readers provide accountability for law enforcement and allow for more objective charges, rather than relying on law enforcement assumptions and determinations.
The laws in Baton Rouge are now aligned with Louisiana state law, another reason for the revision. Before the revision, Baton Rouge laws were harsher than those of the rest of the state.
What Are the Penalties for Excessive Sound in Baton Rouge?
Any individual who violates a provision of this section for excessive sounds will receive a $200 fine for a first offense. For a second offense, individuals must pay at least $300 but no more than $500.
If convicted of a first offense, the court could order the violator to surrender their driver’s license to the agency that arrested them. Law enforcement cannot hold one’s license for more than 30 days.
When the period of surrender is complete, it’s the violator’s responsibility to retrieve their license. They must do so by visiting the law enforcement agency holding their license.
If an individual gets convicted of a second offense, the court could order that same violator to surrender their license again. For this second offense, the period of surrender could be anywhere from 30 to 90 days. After the period of surrender is complete, it would then be up to the violator to retrieve their own license.
What About Defenses?
If you’ve been charged with an excessive noise violation, the best thing you can do is obtain legal advice immediately. Talk to an experienced criminal law attorney with reviews to show for their work.
There are many ways to alleviate the charges for such crimes, especially if law enforcement acted outside of the law. For example, say a gathering takes place, and there’s a nonviolent speech or communication. Even if it’s too loud or blocking a public space, it’s law enforcement’s duty to first order those people to disperse or move.
Before law enforcement hands out violations, those individuals are entitled to a chance to remedy their violations by moving. If an order was given and promptly obeyed, then there’s no cause for an arrest or citation.
Another situation in which a charged individual could defend their case would be if the sound amplifier was being used in an enclosed space. If the sound wasn’t audible beyond the property line, yet they received citations regardless, they could be eligible to have those charges thrown out.
If the person operating the mechanical loudspeaker intended to alert people to an emergency, therein lies another defense.
In many circumstances, there are defenses for proving your innocence in the use of excessive sound.
Call a Lawyer If You Receive an Excessive Noise Violation
Luckily, excessive noise is no longer a misdemeanor charge in Baton Rouge or the state of Louisiana. However, one can still get slapped with fines and lose their license to use a mechanical loudspeaker.
Violations go on one’s record too, so if you weren’t at fault, there’s no reason you should have to suffer a charge and a suspended license.
Call a lawyer with experience in criminal law, particularly pertaining to excessive sound violations.
Were you charged with excessive noise and want to find out where you stand? Contact us anytime between 7 am and 7 pm, including weekends. We are here to help!