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Noise-detecting cameras proposed for Miami Beach to target loud car music, exhausts

The cameras take visual and audio recordings when noise exceeds a pre-set decibel level


Cars and people make their way up and down Ocean Drive during the first day of Memorial Day Weekend in Miami Beach, Florida, on Friday, May 27, 2022.

Photo/Daniel A. Varela for Miami Herlad via TNS

By Martin Vassolo
Miami Herald

MIAMI — Roaring down South Beach in a souped-up sports car or blaring music? That’s what Commissioner Steven Meiner hopes to stop with a proposal to install noise-detecting cameras to crack down on loud cars in the city.

The proposal, which is scheduled for a vote at a City Commission meeting on Friday, seeks to create a temporary pilot program using traffic cameras with decibel meters to detect loud noises coming from car exhausts or speakers, and then take photos of the offending car’s license plate to issue the driver a warning. Drivers would not be ticketed under the pilot program.

“I think it can be a game changer,” Meiner said.

Meiner said he is pushing the proposal after receiving repeated complaints about drivers speeding around the city late at night with modified mufflers that amplify the sound of their car engines.

“This has become a major quality of life issue for our residents,” Meiner said. “It sometimes sounds like bombs going off from the back of their vehicles.”

He said he would want Miami Beach to model its program on a pilot that the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, rolled out in February using loaned technology from a British acoustics company.

The cameras in Knoxville work like a traffic camera, according to local TV station WVLT, which reported that the product takes visual and audio recordings when noise exceeds a pre-set decibel level. New York City also launched a pilot program for noise-detecting cameras in February, and similar acoustic technology has been used to ticket drivers in London.

Meiner said South Beach would be a natural choice for some of the cameras, but he also wants to place them in commercial corridors in North Beach. His proposal encourages the city to acquire a limited number of cameras for a trial period at little to no cost to the city in order to study the impact before deciding whether to permanently install the noise detectors.

He said the proposal would work hand in hand with a new Florida law that makes playing loud music from a car illegal if it can be heard from 25 feet away.

Under the new law, which took effect July 1, police once again have the right to issue tickets for loud music after a nearly identical law was struck down in 2012 by the Florida Supreme Court.

The high court blocked the previous law for not creating exceptions for vehicles used for business or political purposes that use noise-making devices. Legislators addressed those concerns in the new law.

The new law gives police another option for addressing loud noise in the city, Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said.

Police can also arrest someone under a Miami-Dade County ordinance prohibiting “unreasonably loud” music heard 100 feet from a vehicle between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. or issue a civil fine for violating a similar Miami Beach ordinance, Rodriguez said.

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