One man’s noise is another man’s nuisance, but when that nuisance costs the noisemaker up to a $1,000, loud music sounds less melodic.
Unreasonable noise tickets can be handed out to anyone making noise considered by an officer to be unreasonable.
“It could be a loud car stereo, a chainsaw running in the middle of the night, or three people on a back porch at three a.m.,” said Lt. Dave Freismith of Fort Collins Police Services.
Police will only go to a loud disturbance if there has been a complaint. On the weekend of August 24 and 25, approximately 60 complaints were called in to FCPS. Throughout the months of August and September, around 350 to 400 complaints are fielded per month. The number decreases as the weather gets colder because people are more likely to be inside with windows closed, Freismith said.
Because unreasonable noise is at the sole discretion of the officer, there is not a completely accurate way to be sure if noise is too loud; however, some officers gauge noise by whether or not they can hear it from the curb.
Freismith suggests walking around outside the house and listening to what neighbors are hearing, and then using common sense to know if it seems unreasonable.
One problem that sometimes occurs is uninvited guests causing the noise. Hosts should limit wandering guests and call police to help clear out excessive partiers if things get out of control.
In the case of unwanted guests, the host is “just as much a victim as neighbors,” Freismith said. In such a case, a ticket is not likely to be issued.
At a noisy party, everyone in control of the house is eligible for a ticket, including renters, owners and even guests who seem to be in control of what’s going on.
Unreasonable noise is a misdemeanor violation and tickets are not cheap. Fines start at $200 for the first citation and then double for each subsequent ticket up to $1000.
“(The fine) is too much for college students. I have 3 roommates, so that’s 50 bucks each,” said Abby Weyhrich, a sophomore history major who received a ticket on Saturday.
Court is only mandatory for juveniles and those who plead not guilty to the charges. However, a plea of not guilty will result in an additional court cost.
If a student feels the ticket was unwarranted, Sally Maresh, an attorney with Student Legal Services, suggests bringing an uninterested witness (preferably a neighbor or a complaintent) to court in order to state that the noise was not unreasonable or to prove the defendant didn’t have control of what was happening.
Not dealing with the ticket at all will result in a warrant and subsequent detention for failure to appeal.
Other consequences of a noise tickets for renters can include monetary penalties from a landlord or even eviction. Landlords and CSU are often notified of tickets and subsequently pass along encouragement to tenants and students to be better neighbors and citizens by keeping noise to a minimum.
If repeated violations occur, police can even cite the landlord, which may be motivation to take action against tenants, Maresh said.
Freismith asks students to realize that “[police] are not ticket happy. There are other things going on in town that officers are dealing with.”
For help with noise tickets, contact Student Legal Services at 491-1482.