Opinion: Costly noise (New penal regulation on French St. Martin)

POSTED: 11/4/13 2:34 AM

From now on, noise that disturbs the neighbor on the French side will be paid cash, without judgment. So be careful with loud music, your lawnmower or your dog. Daniella Jeffry translated this regulation in English.

Noises and other noises made at night are the source of numerous conflicts between neighbors. So far, these conflicts had to be taken to court where a judge could impose fines up to €450. Since March 9, 2012, a decree authorizes immediate sanctions.

From now on, gendarmes and policemen can directly penalize noisemakers by charging them a fine of €68. This amount is reduced to € 45 if it is paid immediately or within three days. Beyond 30 days, the fine will be increased to €180. These new provisions aim especially at unclogging the court system which is over-burdened by such cases. But it is not forbidden for officers to prefer an amicable settlement. Very often, a simple discussion, a reminder of the law, is quite enough to stop the disturbance.

The new regulation aims at “domestic neighborhood noise”. They include noise from animals, do-it-yourself or garden tools, musical instruments or television as well as those linked to behaviors (singing, screaming, and insults). Noise from a professional, a sporting or leisure activity (nightclub, restaurant, building site) do not fall under this measure.

The fateful deadline of 10 p.m. is a myth. Nuisance such as music, screaming or singing are punished during the day (it is called day noise) as much as at night (it is called night noise). Policemen or gendarmes do not need to use any equipment to measure the noise. Assessing it with one’s ears is sufficient to identify the offence;

In case of neighborhood noise, try first to solve the dispute amicably. If dialogue is not possible, ask the police to intervene or refer to the local mediation service specialized in neighborhood disturbances put in place in many communes. It is also possible to alert the building manager or the owner if the noisy neighbor is a tenant. If this does not solve the problem, file a complaint and take legal proceedings. The noisemaker is liable to a fine up to €450, impounding of the equipment, and payment of damages.



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