Ordinance 2013-41 (Unreasonably Loud Noises)

By: Mathew Baughman*

The City of Huntsville recently passed Ordinance 2013-41 that went into effect on September 27, 2013. The Ordinance amends Chapter 32.23 of Huntsville’s Code of Ordinances that prohibits unreasonably loud noises. The Ordinance prohibits:

  • “The sounding of any horn or signaling device on any automobile, motorcycle, or other vehicle on any street or public place of the city, except as a danger warning, the use of any horn, whistle or other device operated by engine exhaust.”
  • “The using, operating, or permitting to be played, used or operated any radio, musical instrument, phonograph, or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such a manner as to disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants or at any time with louder volume than is necessary for the convenient hearing for the persons who are voluntary listeners thereto or in such manner or with such volume, so that the sound is plainly audible anywhere on private property of another without their consent.” (Note: arguably, this means a non-owner of a residence can be cited for being in the presence of such a sound).
  •  “The operation of radios, musical instruments, or other machines between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the building, structure or place in which it is located shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section. The operation of any such instrument or device that exceeds the maximum permitted sound level of 65dB(A) as measured from the closer of:
  1. 50 feet from the building, structure or place in which it is located or
  2. the property line of the property of which the sound is being generated.”;
  • Using any sound amplifier or other audio device in an outdoor setting between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. without a permit issued by the Chief of Police.
  • Operating a sound amplifier within a vehicle so that the sound is plainly audible at a distance of 30 feet at any time. The music being played does not need to be identified. Bass reverberation constitutes as a plainly audible sound;
  • “Yelling, shouting, whistling, or singing on the public streets, particularly between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. or at any time or place so as to annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort, or repose of persons.”;
  • Discharging of exhausts except through a muffler or other device the prevents loud or explosive noises;
  • “…excessive noise on any street adjacent to any school, institution of learning, church, or court while the same are in use.”

The violation of any provisions in this section will be guilty of a misdemeanor. By way of example, 65dB(A) isn’t that loud. It’s about as loud as a conversation at a dinner table or laughter.

If you have questions about the new noise ordinance or any legal issue, schedule a confidential meeting with our attorney at (936)294-1717 or at shsu.edu/legalservice.

SLMS—Pointing Bearkats in the right direction.

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