Florida City Fines People For Parking Car In Driveway Without Plate

If you own a junk car without plates, it’s a good idea to keep it hidden away, especially if you live in North Port, Fla., which tends to stick violators for thousands of dollars in fees.

Local newspaper the Herald-Tribune reports the $27,000 in fees could drive the rogue parker — a single mother with three kids — to bankruptcy. One of dozens to have been hit with fees in a crackdown by a municipal government looking for ways to earn quick cash, she’s suing the city. The woman had stopped driving the old car because her church gifted her with a newer, functioning car to make her commute to work easier.

How does this rank among the most unfair-seeming laws you’ve heard of?

North Port code net snags another [via Fark]

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  1. ubermex says:

    The trick with this is to back the car up to the house so that there are only a few inches between the plate and the wall. I’d expect this kind of stunt from a HOA, not an actual government.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Usually a car cover can go a long ways… I don’t think they can come on your driveway and lift it up to check.

      • Scuba Steve says:

        Code enforcement can do just that. And if they require the car to be working, they will ask that the owner show proof to the enforcement officer that the car can start.

        • ubermex says:

          Can they? I would think that would be an obvious 4th Amendment issue, since the car was covered and cinched down, a reasonable person would not assume the information under the car to be public.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Couldn’t they just call the DMV and verify that it had up to date registration?

        • heybebeh says:

          Come on your property? Not without your permission they can’t. Although, in the city where I work, they *can* require you to prove that it runs through code enforcement. If you don’t, you can be cited for having an inoperable vehicle in your yard, which is a civil penalty. But you get a warning first, so you could move it.

    • cmdr.sass says:

      Then they get you for not having a front or back plate.

    • Sudonum says:

      the article says she could have parked it in the garage and they wouldn’t have cited her.

      • bill793 says:

        It also says the car was picked up within 4 months by the church, but the city continued to meter on the daily fines….nice effort on blaming the victim though!

    • Pax says:

      Doesn’t help if you have plates front AND back.

      And in some states, nothaving opne of those two, is a separate fine in itself.

      Plainly put: it’s on private property, it’s not being operated, it’s none of the government’s frelling business whether or not it’s been registered.

  2. GMFish says:

    The woman had stopped driving the old car because…

    There was a really simple solution to this. When you stopped driving the old car, you should have sold it. If no one wanted to buy it, you should have sold it for scrap.

    Stop whining when you’re the cause of your own problems.

    • ubermex says:

      Read the article. The group that gave her the new car was coming to get it, but took 4 months to do so. Also, the city left the fines running even after the car was gone.

      • GMFish says:

        4 months to do so

        So she did nothing for 4 months?! Once again, stop whining when you’re the cause of your own problems.

        I simply cannot feel sorry for her. Unless you live in a rural area, there’s almost certainly an ordinance baring you from storing cars that are not plated. It’s not rocket science. If you own a junk car, get it off your property.

        • ubermex says:

          She donated the car and was waiting for the donatee to come and pick it up. SHE didn’t take 4 months to do anything. You’re just being harsh on her for the sake of blaming the OP. IIf you’d ever donated a car, you’d know that it’s completely normal for it to take a while for the group you donate it to to bring a truck to get it.

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          You could try being a fucking person, you know.

          • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

            Obvious troll is obvious. Don’t feed the trolls, it just encourages them.

            Consumeristas, please give us a comment voting system!

            • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

              like

            • myCatCracksMeUp says:

              You seriously think that I’m a troll?

              Not the person who wrote this garbage: “So she did nothing for 4 months?! Once again, stop whining when you’re the cause of your own problems.

              I simply cannot feel sorry for her. Unless you live in a rural area, there’s almost certainly an ordinance baring you from storing cars that are not plated. It’s not rocket science. If you own a junk car, get it off your property.”

              I’ll say it again to the commenter who wrote such ridiculous garbage – “be a fucking person”.

              • myCatCracksMeUp says:

                dang – should’ve previewed – the whole quote was supposed to be bold.

              • wastedlife says:

                LadySiren was advising you to not feed the troll, not calling you a troll. Other than a bozo filter, or extensive moderation, ignoring them is the only way to get them to go away.

        • c_c says:

          What’s wrong w/ you? I had a similar situation where I got a new car and had my old car sitting in our driveway for ~6 months. At the time we weren’t sure if we were going to keep it or sell it. Eventually I did sell it. No big deal.

          Luckily no one was harmed by the act of my car sitting in a driveway for six whole months, amazing, I know. Good thing you weren’t my neighbor at the time.

          • barty says:

            How does it take 6 months to decide if you’re going to keep a car or not?!? I could possibly understand if it were a classic or some other collectible vehicle that you just don’t have the money to spend to restore it, but even then you either have the money or you don’t. If it is some run of the mill car/truck I guess I just don’t understand why people have such a hard time letting go of it. Maybe some of you need to contact those counselors they use on Hoarders: Buried Alive, the next time you are faced with getting rid of an old vehicle.

            Last time I had a car break down on me to the point where I decided not to repair it, I had it up for sale within a week and was sold about two weeks later.

            If the church was giving her the run around about picking up the old vehicle for that long, I would have had another alternative lined up the second code enforcement dropped off the first warning.

            • sagodjur says:

              It’s irrelevant what you or I would have done. The woman had the right to do whatever she wanted with her property. Just because you cannot conceive of leaving an old car in your parking lot for 6 months doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t have the right to do just that. Not everyone is like you and what you would have done isn’t a basis for law.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        I just looked up this city on Wikipedia. It’s a city in central Florida with a 3% Latino population. Not really sure how you pull that one off. Maybe I’m overgeneralizing, but knowing Florida (and north Floridians) this city basically sounds like an extremely large HOA, complete with laws mimicking HOA regulations.

        Her best hope is probably to debate whether the city can levy a fine for each day unless they actually sent someone out there to do so – and regularly gave her notification that this was happening. She could also try to say the church should be responsible for the fines, but that would be a pretty jerky thing to do, especially since they’re helping her out.

        And then move the fuck out of North Port, Florida.

        • Conformist138 says:

          Damn… the US population breaks down to over 15% Hispanic/Latino, and that’s for the entire country. Places like Florida, where it’s over 20%, I agree- it’s kinda tough to be SO below national averages without at least a few raised eyebrows.

          And… Oh jesus christ on a cracker… seriously cracker… that town is over 96% white. That’s, like, not even possible outside of a klan rally.

          (btw- I live in Oregon, and we are pointed out as being a pretty white state overall, but we also have a shameful background where we outlawed slavery… then beat the freed slaves and ran them all out of the territory and forbid them or any others to enter again. (Yay freedom! /s) The “exclusion” wasn’t removed from the constitution until 1927. Our increasing diversity only came about more recently, which is sad for an area known for now being so liberal)

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Why don’t you stop being an ass?

      If you’d RTFA you’d know that she gave her car to a church, but they coudn’t come and get it right away. And once the city started assessing the fine they kept assessing it daily, for long after the car was gone.

      They also didn’t sufficiently notify her about it.

    • Jasen says:

      No. If I own the property, and I own the car, and do not plan on driving the car in the near future, this is my right. Unless the vehicle is out in the yard on blocks, rusting away (I.E. junk), there is no obligation to drive it or sell it. And if it is not being driven on public streets, there is not even an obligation to keep it registered.

    • andyg8180 says:

      I think you’re missing the point. If its on your own personal driveway, you shouldn’t be fined for anything. Also, some people keep their cars, but they dont have the money to register it. So they hold on to their own personal property till they are able to afford to drive it on the road.

      I love how your resolution is so simple…

    • ModernDemagogue says:

      Troll much?

      How about this: where did the city get the end date of the violation from? Did they just randomly decide to send another inspector around to check on the status of the violation, and noted it was gone?

      Where I come from, if the government accuses you of doing something wrong, they have to have evidence of it. All I can see is that they have evidence that on one day in 2007, she had a car in violation of the city ordinance on her parking lot.

      They can’t prove anything else — so unless they had an inspector going by and writing citations every day, then they really don’t have enough to win a court case. Maybe the car was gone in the days in between? Maybe it was in her garage, maybe it wasn’t in violation, I don’t know, and it doesn’t seem like the city knows either.

      So the solution to this is very simple, pay a lawyer $500 to put in an hour in front of a judge, or find the relevant law and write a motion to dismiss yourself.

      Additionally, from a basic theory of property, as long as the car is not providing a materially adverse effect to society (ie health violation, serious blight and diminishing property values, etc) there is no moral justification for the State to require registration of a piece of property that is being retained for its value. In fact, one could argue that this constitutes a form of a government taking, and violation of the 5th amendment’s just compensation clause.

      Perhaps it is a highly valuable performance art piece, and then the municipality is additionally violating her 1st Amendment free speech rights, and could be liable for massive damages from stifling her burgeoning art career.

      So yes, the solution is massively simple: counter sue for civil rights violations.

    • common_sense84 says:

      “Pearson’s run-in with city codes dates back to 2006. She was driving an unreliable 1986 Oldsmobile when the Lighthouse Baptist Church gave her the Sable. She parked the Olds in her driveway for four months until the church picked it up as a donation.”

      Read the article next time you idiot.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Oh Consumerist lords, PLEASE grant us a ranking system for repeat offenders like this guy.

  3. full.tang.halo says:

    Good to see the old home state trying to stay #1 in stupidity. Best quote is at the bottom of the article.

    At this point, though, Pearson sees no reason to give the city the satisfaction.

    “I’ll die in this house,” she said.

  4. phonic says:

    Not really, living near North Port there are a lot of people who decide to pile up old junkers on their lawn which detracts from the appearance of the property and lowers the value of surrounding property too. North Port was one of the hardest hit areas during the recession and whatever people can do to help property values stay up a bit (which isn’t much) helps. If she was gifted a new car, why not donate the plate-less one to the junk yard or to the local high school? To hit the 27g mark she has been racking up fines for a while and should have taken care of it right away, not let it sit…haha

    • ubermex says:

      She donated it, but they took 4 months to pick it up. Read the article.

      • georgi55 says:

        What? Why don’t you repeat it again? I didn’t catch what you said the previous time.

        • ubermex says:

          Check the names, there, pal. We’re 2 different people.

          • georgi55 says:

            How?
            —————
            user-pic
            ubermex
            September 13, 2010 9:51 AM
            Moderate |Flag for review

            Read the article. The group that gave her the new car was coming to get it, but took 4 months to do so. Also, the city left the fines running even after the car was gone.
            —————

            • ubermex says:

              Oh, I thought you were talking about ShadowHH’s post. The post you quoted just now is in an entirely different reply chain, are you new here?

              • georgi55 says:

                No I’m not, you are repeating yourself over and over. Comments code call for not repeating others, and that would of course include oneself.

                • tsumeone says:

                  That would mean the person who made the original comment in this thread here repeated GMFisher’s mistake of not reading the article and thus repeated the same blame the victim rant. I guess they’re in violation of the comment code too.

                  Please uninstall your Internet.

    • shadowhh says:

      Problem is, they kept fining her for having the car in the driveway AFTER the car was no longer there.

  5. Doubts42 says:

    OK, I was all ready jump in and play blame the OP. After reading the article, I am 70% on her side. yes she should have taken care of the car sooner, but to charge the fines retroactively, and then to keep charging more fines after the car is gone, because she didn’t notify them the car was gone is crazy.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m not sure where I stand. It’s a he said/she said game and I find it incredibly hard to believe that she never received any notification of the fines. I definitely think the city was shady for making the fees retroactive, and it is overly strict on the rules, but I have a hard time believing she never knew she was being fined.

      • AnonymousCoward says:

        Agree with you. Making the fines retroactive is shady, and she should be able to show the towing receipt or something to prove when it was actually moved out. But I don’t believe her for a second when she says that she didn’t get any of the notices. And 4 months to move a non-running car? I’d fine her too, frankly.

  6. dbeahn says:

    I’m fine with this. I don’t want to have to look at a driveway stacked up with 3 junkers that are on blocks, or worse, I’ve lived in apartment complexes where junk cars sit for years taking up parking spaces.

    If they aren’t street legal, store them in your back yard or in your garage or in storage or sell them to a junk yard.

    • Devil505 says:

      Yeah, to hell with property rights. I mean just because you own the property shouldn’t mean you get to decide how to utilize it. If you want to live in fascist community join a HOA, but please leave everyone else alone.

      • dbeahn says:

        Your rights end where mine start. By YOUR logic, I could set up a rifle range on MY property, using your house as a backstop. After all, it’s MY property and *I* should get to decide how to use it, so the hell with you and your desire for “safety” and “not having bullets smash into your house”!

        • Devil505 says:

          Nice false analogy. Bullets smacking into my house our obviously a threat to my safety. What “right” of yours is being infringed upon if a neighbor keeps a car without a licence plate in his/her drive way?

          • Devil505 says:

            *are

          • dbeahn says:

            And an old car not being properly maintained, full of toxic fluids that can leak and soak into the ground is somehow not not a threat? Not to mention ugly. Oh, and that also effects property values – somehow you think you have the right to make my property worth less because you want to run a junk yard in your driveway? You’ll notice, incidentally, that I never said you can’t store old cars on your property – feel free to move them into your back yard where the rest of us don’t have to look at them.

            Besides, your argument was that property rights are property rights and need to be respected. You never said safety was an issue. If you’re worried about your “safety”, then go “live in fascist community join a HOA, but please leave everyone else alone.”

            • ModernDemagogue says:

              1) 5th Ammendment — Just Compensation. When it no longer runs, it ceases being a car, and is now a commodities investment in raw metals (which have greatly appreciated over the past couple years). Fines constitute an unjust attempt to compel a sale or donation of personal chattle.

              2) 1st Amendment — Freedom of Speech. It is a performance art piece or decorative sculpture, and there is no accounting for taste, so your ugly claim is irrelevant. As long as it does not represent an immediate threat to the public good, there is no precedent; and no evidence was presented it was leaking toxic fluids, or that it was rusting etc, only that it was unregistered and inoperative. It is difficult to convince me that in four months, a broken down car in a driveway would become a threat to general social welfare.

            • syzygy says:

              There are plenty of old cars, not being properly maintained, full of toxic fluids that are leaking and soaking into the ground, that are fully plated and sitting in people’s driveways. I see no evidence that her old car (which was just one on its tires, not three on blocks) was in any way a junker or an eyesore, simply that it was “unreliable”. How is that affecting (with an “A”) anyone else or their property values?

              Go troll somewhere else.

          • Nisun says:

            +1

        • Chumas says:

          Obvious troll is obvious.

    • evnmorlo says:

      If you don’t want to look at something avert your eyes.

  7. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Where I live, if a car has expired or no plates it’s considered junked and/or abandoned and has to be either out of sight or tarped. The ordinance is used to keep people from turning their front yards into junk yards. There are similar ordinances that prevent people from keeping used appliances on their front yards/porches/driveways.

    • BridgetPentheus says:

      As far as I know it’s a pretty well known law in Florida, when my cousins were waiting to fix up a car they kept it tarped b/c it didn’t have plates, it’s a common sense thing. What they did after was a problem but wouldn’t have happened if she knew what to do in the first place.

    • JoeDawson says:

      I tarped my car and they still looked under it for the license plate sticker… They wouldn’t let me get new registration because the car wouldnt run and i couldnt get the emissions checked. I had to sell it to my dad in order to get legal plates for it.

  8. madanthony says:

    My initial reaction was “well, you shouldn’t keep non-running cars in your yard”, but it sounds like the city has gone way too far – fining her after the car was moved, and fining her retroactively. And $50 a day is stupidly high. The law is fine, but the penalty is way over the top, and the enforcement is unfair.

    The city began levying a $50-per-day fine in early 2007, retroactive to the previous December, for the infraction. And North Port kept the meter running for more than a year after the car was gone.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Not to mention this:

      “Last year, North Port offered to settle the case for $6,200, but Pearson said she could not afford to pay that amount within a year, as was required.”

      The fact that she can’t pay $6,200 in a year shows that her financial situation is quite dire and that there’s just no way that the city will get all of the money without placing a lien on her home. I’m really not sure how solid her case is – the fines are severe, yes, but a judge may decide to pick through the fines and only levy against her the ones that are actually deserved. For example, the fines accrued during the months in which she definitely had the car parked there. Even so, that’s about $6,000 at $50 a day for four months.

    • Speak says:

      My township has a law that cars can not be parked on non-paved surfaces. I got a letter because one of my vehicles was parked on a stone driveway, the same place previous owners of my house parked. The fine was listed as up to $500 per day if I did not move the vehicle with in 10 days, so the $50 per day is not high when compared with other places.

  9. Hobz says:

    Not blaming the OP, but if she got notices (even if months after) wouldn’t she try and do something about it then? On the other hand, $27,000 for a car that’s worth $270 is excessive. Could they not have just taken the car and charged the fee for getting rid of it?

    • RandomHookup says:

      I think towing from someone’s property is problematic. There may be some ways to seize it, but I know they can’t just call out a tow truck to get it.

  10. Joewithay says:

    That ranks a bit ahead of DC’s stupid parking law where you can get ticket in your own driveway if your car isn’t behind the front of your house.

    http://www.wtop.com/?sid=1659296&nid=695

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      If only North Port had fined a prominent local politician. I think the DC fines are much, much more ludicrous than this story, though.

    • Pax says:

      HOLY CRAP.

      … it occurs to me, that the ordinance in question violates the 5th amendment clause against taking private property for public use, without due process and proper compensation. I mean, they want to LEASE your OWN driveway, back to you???

  11. PunditGuy says:

    I had to RTFA to find out that the old car was in her driveway for four months while she waited for the church to take it as a donation. The city started racking up fines that went well beyond the period in which it was actually in her driveway.

    Going with Click and Clack or a local high school would have been a better option, but it’s not as egregious a situation as some posters are making it out to be.

  12. dulcinea47 says:

    The concept of this law is okay… people shouldn’t leave non running, crappy cars in their driveway indefinitely and therefore the law requires that any car has to have up to date tags. However… $50/day?! For years?!? That’s ridiculous.

  13. tedyc03 says:

    The city should agree to settle this case for a token $100. She admits that she broke the law, they admit that $27,000 is a bit much.

    There’s a difference between enforcing the law and enforcing the law without mercy. Just because a law is on the books and gives you the POWER to fine someone retroactively doesn’t mean you SHOULD; there ought to be a process that warns a homeowner several times via certified mail and then an adjudication process that determines the appropriate level of fines. Retroactively fining someone should be reserved in the most egregious of cases, for those scofflaws who refuse to even work on compliance or flout the law openly.

    • ubermex says:

      Dingdingding. I completely agree. Once they knew that she was donating it and waiting for a pickup, they should have stopped the clock and stopped freaking out about it.

  14. redskull says:

    Forget “junk” cars– I’m tired of seeing homes in my neighborhood with up to 7 running cars in front. They’re parked in the driveway, on the street and even in the yard. Who needs 7 cars? Are they the Bradys? This doesn’t just happen at one house, it’s all over the neighborhood.

    • Jasen says:

      Forget “junk” cars– I’m tired of seeing homes in my neighborhood with…

      non-white curtains. Those bastards. If you have curtains of any color other than white, I want to tear your house down. Screw your property rights. My rights to not have to look at your curtains is far more important, because I’m more important.

    • womynist says:

      Where I live, there are lots of people who park all their cars on the street, and refuse to park in the driveway. WTF? Makes me crazy.

    • tbax929 says:

      I know HOAs are hated around here, but mine doesn’t allow overnight parking in the street. You can park in your driveway or in your garage overnight, but not on the street. I like it that way.

    • MacBenah says:

      Ye Gawds – HOW MANY people in the families around you???

    • kevslim says:

      I have this situation in my neighborhood, too.

      To make matters worse, the streets are rather narrow, so if two cars are approaching each other, one driver has to stop behind the parked cars so the other vehicle can go past.

    • Rachacha says:

      My neighbor across the street does this. There is a husband and wife and a teenage daughter (and 4 grade school kids) that live there and they have 4 cars. Not out of the ordinary, no problem yet. The husband works for a mechanical contractor, and they issue him a cargo van with all of his tools and supplies as he may sometimes be on call evenings or weekends. Kind of ugly, but again, reasonable. He often has his friends/coworkers spend the night, so we now have 3-4 of those work trucks. The teenage daughter’s boyfriend also spends the night frequently, and he has a car. For the past several weeks there have been regularly 8-9 cars outside, and they wonder why I get annoyed when they park their large camper and boat out in the road.

      All this in a 2400sf home with 4 bedrooms

  15. Green Beer Day says:

    This is common practice in Georgia. It’s a code violation = $250 fine and a required court appearance in my county. Doesn’t matter if you don’t drive it and it has no plate – that’s another fine. Meanwhile people everywhere are doing their own construction and not a word said about that!

  16. RickinStHelen says:

    I see two big flaws: the first being the private law firm paid on an hourly basis versus a contingency basis, and the second being the enforcement process. A city really has to work hard to screw up something this simple. I have lived in cities that have this rule and it is a godsend. It keeps neighborhoods from looking like junk yards. In my hometown when the rule went into effect, those in violation complained, but the rest of the community was very pleased as the junk vehicles were removed. The rule there was licensed and operable. If a vehicle could not move, it was in violation.

    The woman involved is partly at fault. She violated the ordinance, and did not keep in communication with the city to make sure her removal of the vehicle cleared everything up. I can’t see how removing the vehicle absolved her of existing fines. Did she assume they just went away, or did she hope they woul? we don’t have the information.

    The simple solution here is to reduce the fine and allow a payment plan. The city needs to tighten the implementation of the policy. Although it seems harsh, it is in economically tight times that things get seedy, unless an effort is made to keep a community stable. Remove the strict punishment factor and concentrate on the goal of keeping everything stable.

    • ModernDemagogue says:

      How is it in any way her responsibility to inform the city of the removal?

      In order to cite her, they need to check on the status of the offense every day and create the necessary documentation. Simply stating “as of this day 2007 the car was present” and then selecting an arbitrary end date independent of the facts of reality is legally untenable.

      In order to have a claim, they must have prosecuting informations to back up the claim. Since they do not, and there is some form of record noting the date on which the car was removed by the Church (the church and whomever received it would likely have a record of some related charge or credit it for tax purposes), it would be trivial for her to contest the prosecuting information as facially insufficient or demonstrably inaccurate. IANAL but I’m pretty sure prosecutors don’t get a chance to correct the prosecutorial information in misdemeanor instances (or traffic violations, ordinance enforcements) and depending on whether it was one citation, or a citation for each day, the judge would have no choice but to dismiss the claim entirely, or dismiss all the days for which there was not a testifying witness — assumedly, all but the first, and the day it was removed.

      Just because something was there on one day, and there and another, does not mean it was there and in violation on the days in between. Perhaps it was under a tarp, perhaps it was in her garage — “your honor, I honestly don’t remember, does the city have any evidence to indicate the car was in fact there and in violation of the statute?”

      No. They don’t.

      This is not this woman’s fault at all. Burden of proof lies with the accuser.

  17. ModernDemagogue says:

    Are you guys finding any original stories anymore? Or just reposting from Reddit, BoingBoing, etc??? Sourcing the credit to Fark makes it better though, really.

    I’m also not sure how this is really a consumer issue. Its a messed up trivial legal issue — it has nothing to do with the law being unfair, it has to do with the municipalities interpretation that she was obligated to inform the city when the car was removed. Last time I checked, when citing someone for a violation of well, pretty much anything, one had to have some form of evidence to support the prosecuting information. Clearly they cannot provide sufficient information, and a decent attorney will get the majority of the fines dismissed on their face.

    Additionally, your paraphrasing of the article is hyperbolic and materially incomplete; presenting the big number without the explanation that the city continued the fines for more than a year simply makes people outraged, without explaining why/how etc…

    And fairness ranking? I’d say at the dead bottom. Unfair laws are things like mandatory minimums, crack vs powder cocaine sentencing guidelines, the Patriot Act, student and medical debt bankruptcy law; things that cause real tangible harm to people on a regular basis. Placing some minor municipality’s nit-picky conduct ordinances into that frame of reference makes you guys seem ridiculous.

    • syzygy says:

      Wow, that’s a lot of vowels to remove.

    • Rachacha says:

      Mainstream media does it, which I find funny because it demonstrates just how unimportant they are becoming. On many occasions I will see a story on Consumerist or Digg or some other website and 5-10 days later I will see the story on the evening news. Not really “new”s at that point is it?

  18. CalicoGal says:

    In my county in Md, unregistered vehicles are considered junk and debris by zoning laws and if the county receives a complaint, they will come out and inspect and perhaps order you to remove the offending junk/debris.
    And yes, this means from your own private property. At the house where I used to live, I filed a zoning complaint about the junk station wagon across the street in the lady’s driveway with 4 flat tires that she used for storage. It was disgusting; the county made her get rid of it.
    I’m fairly certain that this is not unusual.

    • fatediesel says:

      Yeah, in my town and neighboring towns it’s illegal to have an unregistered vehicle or a vehicle with expired registration. I thought this was common and prevents people from having a lawn full of junk cars.

  19. Donathius says:

    Something nowhere near this bad happened to my in-laws. Some busy-body neighbor alerted the city to the fact that their old beater pickup truck that was sitting in their driveway (with plates on) had expired registration. They got a $50 ticket.

  20. buckeyegoose says:

    Simple Solution, leave old plates on car, get new ones for the new car you got.

  21. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I am going to form a harsh opinion of this mother. She got numerous letters, door postings, etc. She didn’t do anything about them or respond. I am sure she is busy with two jobs, kids and all, but she absolutely could have had the initiative to deal with this.

    I have an in-law who recently spend the night in jail because she couldn’t deal with these things. Everything always happens to her and isn’t her fault… We all know the type. You help as much as you can but they still screw it up. You LEND her a high chair and are really clear it’s a loaner. 6 months later you find out it was thrown away over a broken wheel !!

    On the other hand, the town shouldn’t be forcing it’s citizens into bankruptcy! The clash of the incompetent!

    • greggen says:

      Where do you get your facts? I saw nothing in the article that she ‘She got numerous letters, door postings, etc’ You read something the rest of us did not?

      • GearheadGeek says:

        The city claims to have notified her several times both by mail and by posting notices on her door. It remains to be seen whether or not the city actually did so, they didn’t provide or even refer to any proof that they had done so, but the article clearly states the city’s claim.

    • ModernDemagogue says:

      You’re an idiot; just because you think she somehow shares some remote similarity to someone in your extended family who you attribute all sorts of bad behavior to, does not mean she has any of those qualities or that you have any moral authority to judge her.

      I live in New York, and unless I am either served papers personally, or receive a certified letter, I am likely to assume it to be junk and discard without opening unless I am expecting the communication, or it is from a known business associate.

      I’ve listed elsewhere why it is dubious that the city is capable of making this case stick (even for the four months) and can think of several strong constitutional grounds for challenging the law, without even seeing its wording.

      Sure, she may have not wanted to deal with it, or had the time, or ignored it, but these predatory tactics are uncalled for and I have no interest in them. I’m glad a lawyer’s taken her case for free; it will go away.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “I live in New York, and unless I am either served papers personally, or receive a certified letter, I am likely to assume it to be junk and discard without opening unless I am expecting the communication, or it is from a known business associate.”

        Wow, so if your city sends you a letter in the mail you just toss it because you assume it’s junk? What if you accidentally underpaid your property taxes, if there’s a boil water going into effect, etc.?

        • ModernDemagogue says:

          If they want more taxes from me, I have a cell number, multiple email addresses, and you can send me certified mail or hand deliver to an adult at the premises. All my bills are paid online — the only thing I might see in the mail that I wouldn’t see otherwise is an insurance related document but those usually don’t get opened for months if ever.

          Boil water going into effect? What is that? We don’t do that in Manhattan.

          I’m under 30 — the idea that I’m going to look at something mailed to me unless its something specific; ie certified, fed ex, or ups, is patently insane.

          The last piece of mail I opened was a Christmas card.

  22. barty says:

    This is a pretty common ordinance across the country as far as I know.Its intent is to provide a financial incentive to get junk cars off their property, though I agree that making the fine retroactive to when she let the registration lapse is a bit harsh. However, if she had received ample warning about the fines and just hoped it would go away after the car was gone, then she should be left on the hook for the time the car was sitting in the driveway after the first citation was issued. I’ve been a few municipal courts before where there was half a room full of people who thought the city would just conveniently forget about the citation and fines because they took care of what the problem was, and let it go for months and months.

    As for those arguing that someone has a “right” to keep an unused car in their driveway for as long as they see fit, as long as it doesn’t become a “junk” car, at what point is it considered “junk”? If it is not in drivable condition, then I say it is a junk vehicle at that point. If you really have the intent on fixing it (perhaps it has some collectible value) then I don’t know of many who would just leave it to rot parked out in the elements. Most people who do this are just lazy, and are using property rights as an excuse to not take care of their responsibility to their neighbors to remove these vehicles from their property.

    • evnmorlo says:

      The “responsibility to your neighbors” you mention is just NIMBYism. People wish they were rich enough to have an estate where everything is under their control, or alternatively enjoy harassing others as a form of recreation. Cities could offer free car removal if they were really interested in serving residents; going after people with damaged vehicles is a deliberate targeting of people with low-incomes to educate them that they belong in the ghetto with their own kind.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        If people feel strongly that an ordinance is unfair, then they should review them prior to moving and if they’re imposed while a resident, then they should go to every single council meeting and voice their dissent. My city recently (about 3 years ago) passed an abandoned car ordinance and not a single member of the public voiced opposition to it at any of the council meetings. I was ecstatic when it passed and the city could finally tow the abandoned car that was parked in front of my house with no plates, flat tires, and two smashed windows.

        If somebody opposes the entire concept of zoning and ordinances, they’re free to move to the unincorporated county.

  23. MacBenah says:

    What’s the big deal? This is normal law everywhere I know of. You are never allowed to store junked cars, i.e., ones that cannot operate and so can’t get licensed, in front yards or driveways. If she wasn’t so dedicated to whining (probably lives on welfare/charity), she might have the braincells to sell/give the junker to a salvage yard. They’d haul it off for free. And usually even give a few bucks in exchange.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      If you had RTFA you’d know that she did give the church the car. It took them a little while to get around to getting it.

      Probably, if the city had done the right thing, and warned her about the car, she would’ve asked the church to try to get it sooner, or found someone else who could come and get it sooner.

      The city acted like ase-wipes here.

  24. Geekybiker says:

    Not all cars are street legal. Say I take my car that I use exclusively at the drag strip out of the garage to wash it. Its in beautiful condition, and runs perfect. However it is ineligible for plates. I’ve just broken the law anyways and can be fined for it.

    Stupid laws making easy to fine symptoms illegal instead of the cause FTL.

  25. cryptique says:

    Our next-door neighbor fenced off an area immediately next to his house to shield an unlicensed car from the prying eyes of the local government, hoping to avoid exactly this kind of fine. This was circa 1973, in Michigan — such ordinances are nothing new.

  26. Griking says:

    But was she part of a home owners association?

  27. TheWraithL98 says:

    while this is beyond extreme, i almost wish they would enforce stuff like this in my area. the official law is that you’re allowed to have one unregistered vehicle in sight on your lawn, which is fine by me.

    my next door neighbor, who lives alone, owns 3 work vans, 2 pickup trucks and at least 3 cars. when they get to the point where the registration on one or more runs out, they go up on his lawn for a while until he decides to move them again. there were 2 vans there, 2 feet from my property line, for about 2 years at one point. those have since been moved, but now one of them partially blocks the alley out back, and there is a pickup truck and a monte carlo in their place.

  28. ellemdee says:

    This law exists where my parents live and it’s unevenly enforced. Residents are forbidden from parking their vehicles on the street during a “snow emergency” (basically if the city plans on plowing side streets). With 4 drivers in the house at the time, we had to pull all of the vehicles into the driveway, meaning some of the cars were technically parked in the back yard (though still on the driveway). My dad’s van (parked in the yard) had a foot of snow on it, like every other vehicle after the storm, and code enforcement gave him a ticket for having an unregistered vehicle since his plates weren’t visible because they were covered with snow. In his own yard. Right after a snowstorm.

  29. JonStewartMill says:

    That sounds like Florida, all right. When I lived there, I had my drivers license suspended for failing to carry insurance on a car which (a) didn’t have current plates, (b) never left the garage, and (c) didn’t have an engine in it.

  30. dush says:

    So the city is fining people to keep up neighborhood appearances due to lots of home forclosures and abandonments.
    But their excessive fining is causing people to have to abandon their home or get forclosed on because they’ve gone into bankruptcy and are getting sued.
    Good job government.

  31. JackieEggs says:

    About this… while I didn’t read the article, I have a registered van ( it runs ) with current plates and a unregistered car at my house. I’m waiting for the title for the car to get here from CT. so I can register it.

    Should I get fined, do I forward that notice onto the State of Connecticut? :-

  32. majortom1981 says:

    On long island if the car does not have a plate the law states it MUST be covered in the driveway.

  33. mmbb says:

    For big bucks, the city should really be going after car dealerships, car haulers (the semi trucks that convey new cars), and railroads (that also transport cars).

    Cha-ching, look at all of those unregistered vehicles in one place!

  34. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    Consumerist writers: There’s a city in south Florida called Florida City, so the title is a bit misleading.

  35. mkn1972 says:

    Reading through the comments here, I find one very large glaring omission.

    The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

    A city, state, or other governmental entity CANNOT enter onto my property for any reason unless I tell them it’s ok, or they have a warrant, backed up by evidence, and issued by a judge that clearly delineates the property and the reason for entry.

    Thankfully, I don’t live in some idiotic town that has laws like this, but if they ever pass one like it here, I’ll challenge it on the basis of constitutionality.

    I can see and understand having a law which prohibits parking of unregistered automobiles/trucks/motor vehicles on a public street, but in my driveway, MY property? Nope. Over-reaching your authority there, so sorry, please try again.

    My home and property are mine, to do with as I please. This is a basic tenet of American law. As long as I am not doing anything with my property which infringes on the rights of other citizens, creates a hazard, or otherwise violates a law which is NOT unconstitutional, then I’m completely within my rights to keep an unregistered vehicle in my driveway/garage/backyard… even if someone else thinks its an “eyesore”.

    Seems like one could turn that around on the city… Every city I’ve ever lived in has a motor pool where their vehicles are kept, and quite a few of those don’t have plates. Wonder if the city inspectors are fining the motor pool for that?

  36. sopmodm14 says:

    the political official who sign this law should be blasted or resign for shame or pork chops

    why don';t they put in cash for clunkers part deux again ?

  37. JonBoy470 says:

    Sheesh… As if I needed more reasons to never want to move to Florida. This lady’s car was not located on a public road, hence no legal obligation to have tags/inspection/smog etc. on it. This whole debacle smacks of a city trying desperately to balance its budget, combined with “doing something” about the blight of foreclosed/abandoned homes. Guess what: inoperative cars are the least of your worries if the place is overrun by foreclosures.

    As for parking cars on the street, this is a practice that should be encouraged. I’d go so far as to advocate zoning code restricting driveways to one car length, to force cars onto the street in most neighborhoods. It’s called natural traffic calming. Cars (and boats and trailers and what-not) on the curb are obstacles that must be maneuvered around, which naturally lowers speeds. People bitch about morons and idiot teenagers tear-assing through their neighborhoods, and demand cul de sacs and speed bumps to cut down the “danger to their kids”. All the while they give no thought to the fact that streets forty feet wide with no on-street parking and no four way stops might be contributing to their problem.

    The Europeans think nothing of building a roundabout with absolutely no signage, no lane markings, and no curbs between the street and the sidewalk. Lo and behold they have a lower accident rate. People have to slow down and pay attention.

  38. njack says:

    So if this woman lived in an HOA and the covenants also made this against the rules, would both be able to fine her? That seems a bit extreme, although I feel HOAs have every right to implement such a rule. I know there are strong feelings on both sides in regard to HOAs, but ultimately you can express your opinion with your $$$. It’s not as if you can move into a neighborhood with an HOA unknowingly. If you feel strongly against them, then perhaps the house isn’t for you.