FAQ: Florida's Scanner Law

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UFEMTFF

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1. What is the legality of scanners or radio equipment in Florida?

The most recent law was published in 2005 and applies only to equipment in motor vehicles. This law states that unless your vehicle is an official “Emergency Vehicle”, you are a Ham Radio operator, or member of the news media, you may not “install or transport […] any frequency modulation radio receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals on frequencies assigned […] to police or law enforcement officers or fire rescue personnel.”

In plain English this means that unless you meet the above criteria, you CAN NOT legally have a radio or scanner that receives Law Enforcement or Fire Rescue frequencies in your vehicle. Whether or not an officer is knowledgeable of this law and/or decides to enforce it or if you think can get away with it does not matter. The law is the law!

Source: Florida Scanner Law
 
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suttles1972

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Re: Firefighter from another state

I appreciate the warm welcome and the informative content of the welcoming. This will help those who enjoy monitoring public safety agencies as a hobby. My concern. I will be boarding a cruise ship out of Florida this year, in August. I am a firefighter out of Tennessee. I have a permanent mounted scanner installed in my vehicle. My question, does my credentials from Tennessee, including my tags and my identification from my department, exempt me from the being a lawbreaker in having such a device?
I know state and local government don't know me from a hole in the way, but anytime I visit another city, I monitor the fire comms, to help me understand the incident command establishment and its operations. To add, fire department communication helps me to prepare me for the next level of management and to provide whatever first responder assistance, if an incident unfolds in front of me.
Thanks in advance.:wink:
 

N4DES

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These are the specific exemptions to the law:

13 843.16 Unlawful to install or transport radio equipment
14 using assigned frequency of state or law enforcement officers;
15 definitions; exceptions; penalties.--
16 (3) This section does shall not apply to the following:
17 (a) Any holder of a valid amateur radio operator or station
18 license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
19 (b) or to Any recognized newspaper or news publication
20 engaged in covering the news on a full-time basis.
21 (c) or Any alarm system contractor certified pursuant to
22 part II of chapter 489, operating a central monitoring system.
23 (d) Any sworn law enforcement officer as defined in
24 s.943.10(1) or emergency service employee as defined in s.
25 496.404(9) while using personal transportation to and from work.
26 (e) An employee of a government agency that holds a valid
27 Federal Communications Commission station license or a valid
28 agreement or contract allowing access to another agency’s radio
29 station.
 

rdrokker

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scanner law in florida

I am under the impression that as long as the scanner is NOT affixed to the vehicle and does NOT have an outside antenna and is NOT plugged into the vehicles electric system ,It is legal in Florida. That is the Attorney General's interpretation. Am I wrong?
 

N4DES

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I am under the impression that as long as the scanner is NOT affixed to the vehicle and does NOT have an outside antenna and is NOT plugged into the vehicles electric system ,It is legal in Florida. That is the Attorney General's interpretation. Am I wrong?
The law changed a few years ago to incude the word "transport" and being installed to the vehicle has no bearing any more.

(1) A person, firm, or corporation may not install or transport in any motor
vehicle or business establishment, except an emergency vehicle or crime watch
vehicle as herein defined or a place established by municipal, county, state,
or federal authority for governmental purposes, any frequency modulation radio
receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals on
frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission to police or law
enforcement officers or fire rescue personnel of any city or county of the state
or to the state or any of its agencies.
 
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rdrokker

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What I want to know under Florida law as stated in TRANSPORTING,How does one not break the law when he buys one and is going home??How is the Mailman or UPS driver not breaking the law ,here in Florida ,when he delivers an ordered scanner ??The law does not stipulate if the scanner is on or off,it just says transporting. Please answer.....
 

N4DES

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What I want to know under Florida law as stated in TRANSPORTING,How does one not break the law when he buys one and is going home??How is the Mailman or UPS driver not breaking the law ,here in Florida ,when he delivers an ordered scanner ??The law does not stipulate if the scanner is on or off,it just says transporting. Please answer.....
The mailman or UPS issue is moot as the carrier has no idea what is inside the box, nor would a LE officer. As to you transporting it, any reasonable officer would be able to tell that the device is in its original packaging and therefore not operational, especially where it say's this:

any frequency modulation radio
receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals


Best thing to do is to spend $18 and got your amateur radio technician license if you are worried about it that much.
 

blacklaw

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The mailman or UPS issue is moot as the carrier has no idea what is inside the box, nor would a LE officer. As to you transporting it, any reasonable officer would be able to tell that the device is in its original packaging and therefore not operational, especially where it say's this:

any frequency modulation radio
receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals


Best thing to do is to spend $18 and got your amateur radio technician license if you are worried about it that much.
I read the law and I have to wonder the same as rdrokker.I do not see how someone that is transporting it has to know what's in the box.Now if I did not read that please point that out so I can go reread it.I do not believe being reasonable or not pertains to the law unless again I missed that in the law.Now as for operational I would assume you mean no power like removing batteries or similiar as some scanners are preprogrammed and therefore able to receive messages or signals.I could see your point if you manualy enter in the frequency.
 

rdrokker

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Self amending the law

The mailman or UPS issue is moot as the carrier has no idea what is inside the box, nor would a LE officer. As to you transporting it, any reasonable officer would be able to tell that the device is in its original packaging and therefore not operational, especially where it say's this:

any frequency modulation radio
receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals


Best thing to do is to spend $18 and got your amateur radio technician license if you are worried about it that much.
The law states as in above post ,that no person or corporation shall TRANSPORT legally an scanner in Florida in an vehicle.One should not incorporate his own interpretation to suit his needs.The law ,word for word,is how it is interpretated.Now, having said that,there seems to be no law against wearing the scanner on oneself outside an vehicle.I post this because it may help people stay out of trouble and for no other reason.
 

N4DES

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The law states as in above post ,that no person or corporation shall TRANSPORT legally an scanner in Florida in an vehicle.One should not incorporate his own interpretation to suit his needs.The law ,word for word,is how it is interpretated.Now, having said that,there seems to be no law against wearing the scanner on oneself outside an vehicle.I post this because it may help people stay out of trouble and for no other reason.
Federal law makes it a felony for anyone, other than the receipient, to open someone else's mail without a search warrant, so with that being said, if the scanner is in the box and unmarked there is no way to tell what is in the box. It would take a court order for a LE officer to open the box unless he thinks that it is an explosive device.

In addition, a few months ago I had 550 BCT15X scanners delivered to my office by freight for our rebanding project. Were they delivered to my agency, which happens to be a gov't agency, illegally? I say no as they were totally encased, wrapped in plastic wrap, unprogrammed, unpowered, and therefore totally unusable.

You guys are reading into it way too much.
 
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gcr33

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The State Attorney would never file charges against a carrier for simply transporting the equipment which is not illegal to have at it's end. They do not charge the carrier for transporting illegal drugs as they are also not knowlegdeable about what they are carrying.

Common sense prevails once in awhile.


Federal law makes it a felony for anyone, other than the receipient, to open someone else's mail without a search warrant, so with that being said, if the scanner is in the box and unmarked there is no way to tell what is in the box. It would take a court order for a LE officer to open the box unless he thinks that it is an explosive device.

In addition, a few months ago I had 550 BCT15X scanners delivered to my office by freight for our rebanding project. Were they delivered to my agency, which happens to be a gov't agency, illegally? I say no as they were totally encased, wrapped in plastic wrap, unprogrammed, unpowered, and therefore totally unusable.

You guys are reading into it way too much.
 

smokchsr

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One silly little note about the scanner law, until they update it you might could get off if you got busted for listening to a digital system. Since the law Specifically states "any Frequency Modulation receiving equipment" if it was listing to a digital site, that's not FM.

Also for those hung up on the delivery stuff, the law says "Adjusted to receive" the delivery guy isn't going to have it adjusted to receive.
 

KB7MIB

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Question: The exemption for Ham's, does that apply to possessionbinstallation of an actual scanner, or only to VHF/UHF/multi-band Ham radios with incidental, out-of-band coverage of public safety frequencies? I have a lot of distant cousins in FL, and I'd like to know if I'd have to remove and hide any scanners I may have with me (as the law covers the transport of a scanner, which could get you into trouble even just having it in the trunk), or can I leave a scanner or 3 in plain sight while driving through the state visiting them sometime in the future?

John
KB7MIB/WPXJ598
Peoria, AZ
 

thomast77

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Question: The exemption for Ham's, does that apply to possessionbinstallation of an actual scanner, or only to VHF/UHF/multi-band Ham radios with incidental, out-of-band coverage of public safety frequencies? I have a lot of distant cousins in FL, and I'd like to know if I'd have to remove and hide any scanners I may have with me (as the law covers the transport of a scanner, which could get you into trouble even just having it in the trunk), or can I leave a scanner or 3 in plain sight while driving through the state visiting them sometime in the future?

John
KB7MIB/WPXJ598
Peoria, AZ
An Amateur Radio license allows you to have a scanner in Florida. But I would go to this link.
Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine
Print it out and have it in your glove box just in case. And have your Amateur radio license too of course,

843.16 Unlawful to install or transport radio equipment using assigned frequency of state or law enforcement officers; definitions; exceptions; penalties.—
(1) A person, firm, or corporation may not install or transport in any motor vehicle or business establishment, except an emergency vehicle or crime watch vehicle as herein defined or a place established by municipal, county, state, or federal authority for governmental purposes, any frequency modulation radio receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals on frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission to police or law enforcement officers or fire rescue personnel of any city or county of the state or to the state or any of its agencies. Provided, nothing herein shall be construed to affect any radio station licensed by the Federal Communications System or to affect any recognized newspaper or news publication engaged in covering the news on a full-time basis or any alarm system contractor certified pursuant to part II of chapter 489, operating a central monitoring system.
(2) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Emergency vehicle” shall specifically mean:
1. Any motor vehicle used by any law enforcement officer or employee of any city, any county, the state, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Armed Forces of the United States while on official business;
2. Any fire department vehicle of any city or county of the state or any state fire department vehicle;
3. Any motor vehicle designated as an emergency vehicle by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles when said vehicle is to be assigned the use of frequencies assigned to the state;
4. Any motor vehicle designated as an emergency vehicle by the sheriff or fire chief of any county in the state when said vehicle is to be assigned the use of frequencies assigned to the said county;
5. Any motor vehicle designated as an emergency vehicle by the chief of police or fire chief of any city in the state when said vehicle is to be assigned the use of frequencies assigned to the said city.
(b) “Crime watch vehicle” means any motor vehicle used by any person participating in a citizen crime watch or neighborhood watch program when such program and use are approved in writing by the appropriate sheriff or chief of police where the vehicle will be used and the vehicle is assigned the use of frequencies assigned to the county or city. Such approval shall be renewed annually.
(3) This section does not apply to the following:
(a) Any holder of a valid amateur radio operator or station license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
(b) Any recognized newspaper or news publication engaged in covering the news on a full-time basis.
(c) Any alarm system contractor certified pursuant to part II of chapter 489, operating a central monitoring system.
(d) Any sworn law enforcement officer as defined in s. 943.10 or emergency service employee as defined in s. 496.404 while using personal transportation to and from work.
(e) An employee of a government agency that holds a valid Federal Communications Commission station license or that has a valid agreement or contract allowing access to another agency’s radio station.
(4) Any person, firm, or corporation violating any of the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
 

wise871

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Question: The exemption for Ham's, does that apply to possessionbinstallation of an actual scanner, or only to VHF/UHF/multi-band Ham radios with incidental, out-of-band coverage of public safety frequencies? I have a lot of distant cousins in FL, and I'd like to know if I'd have to remove and hide any scanners I may have with me (as the law covers the transport of a scanner, which could get you into trouble even just having it in the trunk), or can I leave a scanner or 3 in plain sight while driving through the state visiting them sometime in the future?

John
KB7MIB/WPXJ598
Peoria, AZ
thomast77 posted the law but all you have to do is use the common since law and you'll be fine. I have two to three scanners mounted in my truck and antennas on the roof and I've never been stopped or questioned about having a scanner in my vehicle. Yes I have my ham license but I never had to pull it out for proof.

The common since law is as followed “unwritten”;

1 Don’t blare your scanner for all to hear. People hate it when the cops have their radios up loud in a public place, why should you.

2. Don’t chase police calls. Enjoy monitoring what is going on around you. This helps avoid road closers or accidents all the time.

3. If pulled over for speeding and not because you have a scanner, discreetly turn it off or turn the volume down. You have plenty of time to do so because most of the time when we get nabbed for speeding you know it because the cop is making a U-turn or speeding up to get you. Nothing upsets them more than hearing themselves calling in your tag and DL from your car (scanner).

4. Avoid #3, obey the speed limit.

I’ve been running around with scanners in my vehicle way before I got my ham license. I’ve never heard of the average person getting popped for having a scanner if they were minding their own business and doing it respectfully and obeying the law. Now I have heard of two people getting arrested but not just for having a scanner. One was playing cop and driving around with blue lights, zone charts in front seat police hat on the dash and a kill switch on his rear lights. He was caught when his tail lights didn’t come on when a cop was behind him. The other guy was committing a crime but that didn’t save him, he was caught via Nextel and MDT (car computer) and his scanner was missed programmed, :lol:.

Most officers will not even know you have a scanner. These days custom installed scanners in your dash like the Unidens and GRE’s look like fancy satellite radios. Even the HomePatrol looks a GPS or Nav unit. As far as the handhelds, they could pass for handhelds ham HT, CB, or GMRS radios. Again it’s the user who brings the unwanted attention to themselves.

One other thing, there are a lot of Hams in the state and tons of trucks with CB antennas on them "hunting season" so external antennas on a personal vehicle in this state is not uncommon.
 
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One13Truck

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Sorry if these have been covered before but I have a few really dumb questions on the state laws. Seeing as I'm one of the many "fortunate" people on UE due to company consolidations & eliminations of duplicate departments thus giving me the perfect chance to ditch the mountains of the northeast & those nasty things known as "Spring", "Fall", and especially "Winter" for Florida I want to ask now to avoid confusion later.

#1: I know the state still has some vollies, how does this affect them with pagers/portables/mobiles? Is it just something the Chief/line officers have to sign off on to OK to use in vehicles or are they OK'd the same way the "designated emergency personnel" are similar to the exceptions in ThomasT's post?

#2: Along that line I'd assume the out of state FD creds & all that would be a no-go as OK there so mine would just be a worthless piece of paper there?

#3: Under those same exceptions would that also include CIVILIAN employees of police/fire departments as OK'd to use, such as dispatchers, admin, HR?

#4: And again under that post "crime watch vehicle", would that include anything related to a CERT group a lot of places have or is that also a no-go?


I think all those will have the answers I'm thinking but it never hurts to ask. I think wise summed it up best saying if everybody plays nice & abides by the law I don't see any PD's that would go out of their way to chase anybody down just to tear through a vehicle to make sure there's no scanner anywhere in the vehicle but you never know.... Now if I do make the move down I'd make sure my blue/white dash light I have in the truck is packed away and then double packed away and then hidden very carefully in the boxes so as to have no chance of it being visible. But as long as someone doesn't act like a complete moron even though it's been more than a decade since I've been to the state I'm sure the scanner in the vehicle wouldn't be picked on just for that.
 

thomast77

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#1: I know the state still has some vollies, how does this affect them with pagers/portables/mobiles? Is it just something the Chief/line officers have to sign off on to OK to use in vehicles or are they OK'd the same way the "designated emergency personnel" are similar to the exceptions in ThomasT's post?
Vollies are exempt from the law there vehicles are designated as Emergency vehicles. Because that is what they use to get to the scene. And in most cases they carry radios that transmit on fire freqs anyways.

#2: Along that line I'd assume the out of state FD creds & all that would be a no-go as OK there so mine would just be a worthless piece of paper there?
I think that if you show a valid ID from another state you would be ok. It shows you are one of them. You are part of the FF family after all. Just tell them it is permanently installed in your vehicle and you didn't think it would be a problem. Now if you ran across an idiot officer then it could be a different story. But I think you could fight it and win in my opinion. But that is just my opinion.

#3: Under those same exceptions would that also include CIVILIAN employees of police/fire departments as OK'd to use, such as dispatchers, admin, HR?
I would assume technically no but again they are dispatchers. I don't think anyone is going to give them any trouble with it. Again my opinion.

#4: And again under that post "crime watch vehicle", would that include anything related to a CERT group a lot of places have or is that also a no-go?
Most Sert members are Amateur Radio Operators. But even if they are not I don't think they should have a problem. They provide for search and rescue operations.

These are mostly my opinion I am not a lawyer. If you want to be on the safe side just get an Amateur Radio license. Its not that hard just pickup a book and study. It is only like 35 questions. Also the common since law only goes so far. What if they pull you over for a burned out tail light or tag light. In many cases they just use that excuse to pull you over and get in your business.
 

Alex1041

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If you're unable to have the scanner in your car, how are you supposed to transport it?
 

traffic27fl

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re: Newby

Victor, for some additional discourse on this statute, as amended in 2008, see below:


"A person, firm, or corporation may not install or transport in any motor
vehicle or business establishment, except an emergency vehicle or crime watch
vehicle as herein defined or a place established by municipal, county, state,
or federal authority for governmental purposes, any frequency modulation radio
receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals on
frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission to police or law
enforcement officers or fire rescue personnel of any city or county of the state
or to the state or any of its agencies. Provided, nothing herein shall be
construed to affect any radio station licensed by the Federal Communications
System or to affect any recognized newspaper or news publication engaged in
covering the news on a full-time basis or any alarm system contractor certified
pursuant to part II of chapter 489, operating a central monitoring system."

As the excerpt from Fl Stat 843.16 above states, unless you are covered by the exceptions listed below it is a misdemeanor to possess, never mind listen to, a radio capable of receiving a police or fire frequency in an automobile or, in your case, a place of business. What exemptions there are from this statute are very limited. For example, I sat down with Betty Reed (a state rep in Tampa) a few years ago to try to get public safety personnel exempted since there was no mention in the statute giving public safety personnel a blanket exemption. She said she would see what she could do. What she ultimately did was to get an exemption only for going to or from work. For additional interpretion on this issue see the July 21, 1989 excerpts below from then Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth to Boca Raton Police Chief Peter Petracco:

"The statute recognizes several exceptions. Emergency vehicles[3] and crime watch vehicles[4] are expressly excluded from the statute.[5] Places established by the state, county, municipal or federal government for governmental purposes are also exempted.[6]



"Section 843.16, F.S., provides that nothing contained therein shall be construed to affect any radio station licensed by the Federal Communications System.[7] This office has stated that this exemption applies to television stations as well as to radio stations.[8] In addition, holders of valid amateur radio operator or station licenses issued by the Federal Communications Commission are expressly exempted from the terms of the statute.[9]

Accordingly, I am of the opinion that if such radio equipment is installed in a nonemergency or noncrime watch motor vehicle or in a business establishment which is not a place established by municipal, county, state or federal authorities for governmental purposes, the installation by a person other than a radio or television station or holder of a valid amateur radio operator or station license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, violates s. 843.16, F.S"

Sincerely,

Robert A. Butterworth
Attorney General
 

CapStar362

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Hello Floridian's, i live in GA, my mother lives in FMB ( Fort Myers Beach ) and i may be attending the Lakeland airshow this year. i DO NOT have a HAM or Amateur License. can i bring my Pro-83 to the airshow without any problems? i know the law is written that a person cannot even "Transport" a device, so how do i get it to the show? am i just being paranoid? just stuff it in my camera bag and dont take it out until inside the airport grounds?

advise me please
 
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