And finally… let’s park that for a minute



A woman facing more than $100,000 in parking fines for minor parking infractions on her own property has cleared a hurdle in her lawsuit against her local authority.

Credit: kdingo, CC BY-SA 2.0

Sandy Martinez has been supported by the Institute for Justice (IJ) in her lawsuit against the town of Lantana in Florida, which says she owes $165,000, more than half what her home is worth.

According to the IJ, Ms Martinez, her two adult children and her sister all own cars so that they can get to their jobs. When all four cars are parked in the driveway, sometimes one of them has two tires on the lawn.

This is a $250 per day violation and the fines accrue until the homeowner corrects the problem and calls the city to inspect the property to confirm it is in compliance.

Ms Martinez called the town after receiving the parking violation, but an inspector never came out. Once she discovered that the fines were still accruing over a year later, she immediately called and passed the inspection.

By then, however, the amount she owed was $101,750. This fine is on top of fines for two other similarly trivial violations – for cracks in the driveway and a fence that fell over during a storm.

Attorney Ari Bargil said: “Six-figure fines for parking on your own property are outrageous and today’s decision will allow Sandy to make the case that these fines are unconstitutional.

“While Florida’s Constitution forbids fines that are ‘excessive’ or ‘shock the conscience’, places like Lantana routinely impose crippling fines against residents for minor code violations. It is time that Florida courts make it clear that cities cannot fine people into poverty for trivial violations.”