Loud music in the car, is that actually allowed?

August 24, 2022

Stirring music

Listening to music in the car affects your driving. In particular, songs with more than 120 beats per minute often cause motorists to step on the gas pedal too deeply. You won’t be the first to pick up a fine because Firestarter by The Prodigy made you momentarily forget the speed limit. Moreover, according to researchers at the South China University of Technology, the average motorist starts to drive more recklessly with this kind of exhilarating music. But will you also be fined if the police realize that you are pushing your car’s sound system to the limit?

Music too loud in the car?

In principle, it is not a criminal offense to play loud music in your car. However, you must be able to hear ambient noise. So in theory, you’re not allowed to turn the music up so loud that you can’t hear anything but your own music. If you don’t hear an ambulance coming, then you know your music is clearly too loud. But really clear rules do not exist for this. In fact, in the Netherlands you may even sit behind the wheel with earbuds in or headphones on.

Windows open

Playing loud music with your windows open is another story. Not only you, but also people outside the car can then enjoy your favorite songs. If you are really proud of your sound system and turn it up full blast, you can cause some serious noise pollution. In that case, the police will intervene.


For example, a few years ago, a motorist in Dordrecht received a police report for causing noise pollution for shoppers. He drove through downtown Dordt with his windows open. A police car drove up behind him, but he didn’t care. The volume knob went all the way to the right. According to the police, the music was “very loud,” so the man was fined.

Again, there are no clear rules as to when something is “too loud,” but the police did explain the situation in Dordrecht: “We really understand that if you like music, you think you have a nice car and also have a subwoofer installed in the car, that sometimes you turn it up loud. But don’t do this in built-up areas.”