A $100,000 Parking Violation?

Most people accept that the government can fine you a small amount for parking illegally. But can the government cripple you financially for how you park your car on your very own driveway?

In Lantana, Florida, that is exactly what happened to local homeowner Sandy Martinez. The city fined her more than $100,000-at a rate of $250 per day-for violating an ordinance regulating how one can park their car on their own driveway. When stacked on top of the astronomical fines the city imposed for two other trivial code violations-$47,375 for a storm-damaged fence and $16,125 for cracks in her driveway, each of which she fixed as soon as she could afford to-Lantana has fined Sandy over $165,000. That outrageous amount is nearly four times her annual income and more than half the value of her home.

But the government cannot lock you into a lifetime of crushing debt for such harmless code infractions. That is because Florida’s Constitution clearly forbids “excessive fines.” This protection enshrines a centuries-old axiom: The punishment must fit the crime. By trying to impose ruinous fines on Sandy for such minor infractions, Lantana is violating Sandy’s constitutional right to be free from excessive fines. To fight back, she’s teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a lawsuit in Florida state court to hold the city accountable for this unconstitutional behavior.

“The town of Lantana is fining me over $100,000 for parking on my grass.”
IJ Client Sandy Martinez

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