How loud is too loud when it comes to a car stereo?

Central Saanich is abuzz with that question after a man was charged with mischief and banned from using his car stereo for cranking his tunes too loud.

Police say they’ve been getting complaints since May over Dustin Hamilton’s sound system that, according to him, can reach 155 decibels.

Seventeen complainants have come forward and police say they had to intervene because people were confronting Hamilton – and in some cases it was close to getting physical. 

“The bass level is so loud that their dishes will rattle in the house, paintings or pictures and mirrors on the wall will shake, their young kids are woken up in the middle of the night because of the noise,” Cpl. Dan Cottingham said.

According to police, witnesses reported the noise escalated after they spoke to Hamilton and that’s when officers laid the mischief charge. 

“For a criminal charge of mischief in this sense it has to disturb or interfere with the lawful enjoyment of people’s property,” Cottingham said.

While people in the municipality have expressed their frustration, Hamilton says that was never his intention. 

“If somebody just came up to me nicely saying ‘hey I live here this is what’s happening’ you know we could do that but I never had that, I just had a guy follow me and try and assault me,” Hamilton said. “It went from that to basically 17 people complaining and a mischief charge.”

Hamilton’s charge comes with strict conditions, including not contacting some of the complainants and not driving on West Saanich Road between Keating Cross Road and Wallace Drive.

“As of today I’m only allowed to drive basically to my lawyer meetings, if I need to take myself to the hospital and If I’m taking my girlfriend directly to work and back,” he said.

If it sounds like an unusual charge, that’s because it is. 

Cottingham says when police get noise complaints, it’s usually a house party that’s out of control. 

“This is the first one that I’ve seen involving a car stereo,” Cottingham added.

Hamilton’s car is equipped with a decibel reader and he says he plays it at 150. 

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the impact compares to hearing fireworks at three feet. 

“I can play anything, rap, hip-hop, it all sounds good … I love sound man,” Hamilton said

The Saanich man’s girlfriend has poured a lot of money into the stereo and says she’s surprised by the complaints.

“It’s kind of blown my mind actually, some people are very angry by it and I understand to each their own opinion, but I think some of it is too much,” Katrina Jeorgenay said.

On top of the mischief charge, the 24 year old is also facing an assault charge after an alleged altercation with someone upset about the noise.

Hamilton’s next court appearance is scheduled on Oct. 25 and he says he’s adamant he won’t be downgrading his gear.

“I just want to live my life and enjoy what I do because it’s not living life if I can’t have my music," he said.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Rob Buffam