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Collier County and nonprofit Quiet Florida continue to evaluate options to combat excessive noise from vehicles with illegally modified mufflers. The Board of Commissioners discussed July 11 an update on what can be done locally and statewide to implement further restrictions. 

Florida has a plainly audible standard for noise emitted from radios in cars, but there is no standard for sound emissions from car exhausts. Commissioner Burt Saunders seeks to push harder for the Florida Legislature to create a plainly audible standard for modified mufflers, so noise cameras can capture license plate images and ticket drivers. 

“This noise issue is really a health issue and a quality-of-life issue. There are a lot of citizens in Collier County that are very upset, rightfully so, because of the increasing levels of noise,” Saunders said. “And a lot of that noise can be controlled, and that’s part of the purpose of bringing this forward.”  

Burt Saunders

In March, the board instructed county staff to look into various noise camera systems being used worldwide. Staff investigated systems from as far as Paris and as close as the city of Miami Beach. A four-month noise camera pilot program was instituted in Miami Beach, using three license plate reader cameras to measure and capture excessive sounds. The study is at the stage of using second-generation cameras as it focuses on further evolving the technology.  

Collier County Sheriff’s Office has been enforcing a noise ordinance under a state law preventing operation of a motor vehicle on highways with modified exhaust systems or noise abatement devices. The county has issued more citations for this ordinance than any other county in the state, with more than 500 citations, followed by Miami-Dade County with more than 320.  

Under federal law, law enforcement agencies can’t impose any larger of a penalty than the fines. However, if noise cameras could use the plainly audible standard to ticket drivers, it would lessen the workload for local police departments.  

Saunders said he wants to work with lobbyist Lisa Hurley and state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, who represents Collier, Hendry and parts of Lee County, to begin tweaking some state statutes. He hopes the Legislature can not only institute the plainly audible standard but increase fine penalties and allow the county to educate repair shops on laws against modifying mufflers with the intent of creating excessive noise. Saunders said the county should wait to make a decision on implementing noise cameras.  

“We’re not ready, I don’t think, to do anything with noise cameras at this point,” Saunders said. “They’re being perfected. And in six months or a year from now, perhaps when there’s better evidence of how they work, we can bring that back to our next budget cycle and take a look at whether we want to deal with noise cameras.”  

The board unanimously voted to continue pursuit of a resolution to the issue. 

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