Sleepers thumped awake by loud stereos in passing cars may be granted some relief with passage of a new ordinance by the Juneau Assembly. The measure also makes it expensive for residents who continue to party hearty after being asked by the police to pipe down.
Booming your way through a neighborhood between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. will be considered disturbing the peace - a Class B misdemeanor - when the ordinance goes into effect Feb. 22. That class of offense requires a court appearance and has a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.
But for car-radio fans who might think that's a bit much, the fine for an offender is likely to be under $100, according to City Attorney John Corso.
And it might be nothing at all if offenders are amenable to being educated about how they cause others discomfort, said Juneau Police Chief Mel Personett.
"We'll be asking officers to use discretion," Personett said. "We'll be telling people that are stopped that we have this new ordinance. Initially, the effort is toward education, getting compliance by getting the word out to the public."
In a prosecution under this section of the code, the presumption is that the registered owner of the offending vehicle has played the noisy sound system - or allowed it to be played.
"Quite often, the people who are disturbed know the vehicle and are able to ID it," Personett said. The presumption that the owner is the driver makes the attribution of responsibility easier, he said.
Though that presumption can be challenged, Personett said, the burden is on the owner of the vehicle who denies he or she was driving at the time of the offense to identify the actual driver.
The ordinance, approved Monday, also targets noisy partyers who won't take a warning seriously and cause police to come back a second time. They are going to have to pay $100 for the repeat call. And if as a result of the call injured officers need medical treatment, offenders will pay for that, too, as well as for any damaged police or city equipment.
As with car-stereo offenders, police officers "initially will be seeking compliance; we want people to be aware," Personett said.
Partyers who have been issued a written warning and who own the property where the party took place also need to be aware that a second police response need not be on the night of the first call. The ordinance defines a "second police response" as one made "within 12 months after the mailing or delivery of a written warning to the person responsible for the party or event."
Partying non-owners who have been warned must pay for the second response if it is within 48 hours of the first.
Deputy Mayor John MacKinnon would rather see the car-stereo and party noise treated the old-fashioned way, he said. "I'd much rather have it that if there's a problem, go to the offender and just talk."
Nevertheless, the assembly could put on even more heat, MacKinnon said.
"This measure is for people who work days and sleep nights," he said. "There are some people in Juneau who work nights and sleep days."
Fernand Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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