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Tensions mount over loud, mobile music
Rutledge 2
Brandon Rutledge talks about the stereo system in his car. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.

The consequences

$142 – first offense
$282 – second offense
$422 –third offense
“When it gets up to the third and fourth offense, I have seen the judge confiscate their radios and speakers out of their vehicles,” HPD Lt. Max McClendon said.
And officers cannot charge based on what someone else reports. So when they get a report of loud music they have to be able to go out and hear it themselves.
Because the music can sound so much alike, McLendon said officers try their best to make sure they cite the right person.
“We want to be fair,” McLendon said. “We don’t give somebody who doesn’t deserve a citation.”
McLendon admitted there are times when the music includes profanity or offense lyrics.
“We can’t charge them because someone’s offended,” McLendon said. “We can’t write them [citations] based on profanity coming from the vehicle.”
“It can be, but…it’s all in how people take it,” Brandon Rutledge said of some of the music content. “I’ve never been told to turn it down because of that. More than anything, people just don’t like it being loud.”
“If you don’t respect nobody else, respect the person living beside you,” suggested Adam Burris, manager of Full Armor car detailing shop. “Because a lot of people really don’t want to hear it.”
Rutledge said has not been stopped for his loud music while driving, but he has had police officers call him out on the noise violation.
“I’ve never been ticketed,” he said. “I’ve been warned a few times.”

Some see it as “bumpin’,” “bangin’,” a means of self-expression. Others find it irritating, obnoxious. And some say the loud, vibrating music from cars in Liberty County is illegal.
However you see it, the battle over mobile music isn’t likely to end any time soon.
“That’s just one thing that can’t be stopped,” said Adam Burris, manager of Full Armor car detailing shop.
In fact, the louder the music, the better, according to Burris.
And exactly how loud can it get?
“Depends on how loud you want,” Full Armor assistant manager Maurice Chevalier said, explaining it depends on the stereo brand and watts.
But if the music can
be heard 100 feet from the vehicle, it is a Georgia code violation, according to Lt. Max McLendon with the Hinesville Police Department.
“It’s irritating to a lot of people,” McLendon said. “It’s irritating to businesses. It’s irritating to people when they’re trying to sleep.”
And fines can go up to almost $400, if music blasters are caught.
“In the city limits of Hinesville, it’s a big problem,” McLendon said. “We work on this constantly, making cases on these people that they will hopefully just turn their music down.”
Brandon Rutledge said people use the music to express themselves with their customized cars.” 
“It’s how you ride your car,” Rutledge said. “It’s the feel of the new generation.”
He compared the booming music trend to what happened in the 1980s and 1990s when low-riding cars were the style and many people did not like it.
A lot of the misconceptions come from “people thinking it’s just one group of people,” he said.
Burris said he could understand how the rhythmic thump down the road can get on people’s nerves.
“We can’t make it less irritating,” Burris said, speaking on behalf of the shop.
“Half the people that got stereo systems respect other folks,” Burris said.
And Burris is one of those.
“But if I’m in a car show…hanging out in the club…then, yeah, I’m bangin’,” Burris said. “But if I’m around here I’m going to play it at a tone, though.”
Rutledge goes to car shows in Savannah every weekend with his system.
“I know if I’m rolling down a neighborhood and it’s after 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. …then I don’t bump it,” he said. “But if I’m on the main street or something here, it’s going to be up.”
Chevalier has his own system and said he turns the music down if asked.
“I respect other people,” Chevalier said. “But if I’m riding down the road and I want to hear my music, I’m going to hear my music.”
During an installation, Chevalier said he gives customers the option of a “kill-switch,” that automatically turns the speakers off.
He admitted he will turn it down if he spots a police car.
McLendon said bangers should do it more often.
“It’s always a safety issue because emergency vehicles coming up behind you, their sirens going, you simply can’t hear [it],” the lieutenant said.
McLendon said there was a case where a man was hit by a train because his music was too loud.
“This is really ridiculous when your music so loud you can’t hear a train coming,” McLendon said.
“That’s what you got a rearview mirror for,” Chevalier said.
 “You can still hear the horns, brakes and tires over subs,” Rutledge added.
Sub-woofers, or just “12s”, refer to the size of some speakers installed  and often go in the trunk of a vehicle with their amplifier. Controllers, players and pre-amps are often located in the passenger compartment.
“They put a lot of money into these stereo systems,” McLendon explained. “It’s like anything else – they want to show it off a little.”
Burris agreed it can be about image.
“It’s like a sound competition,” Burris said.
And everyone turns up the dial when they hear a song they like.
McLendon thinks being in a military community also influences the problem.
“In the evening, when people get off from work…that becomes a spike,” McLendon said.
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