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Are L.A.'s Insane Parking Tickets Unconstitutional? Federal Lawsuit Says Yes

Two guys just did what all of us -  all of us - have always wanted to do.

They just filed a federal lawsuit over the heinously high price of parking tickets in Los Angeles. Jesus Pimentel and David R. Welch are the heroes plaintiffs. The claim seeks class-action status, meaning you might actually be able to join in on the fun.

See also: L.A.'s Over-the-Top Parking Tickets Spark Revolt

It argues that the expired-meter tickets that cost Pimentel and Welch $175 denied them "due process" in court to face their accusers and fight their cases:

In fact the lawsuit says that L.A.'s parking tickets are straight-up "unconstitutional."

Pimentel's attorney, Donald G. Norris, told us:

We believe that the parking meter penalties are oppressive and violate the prohibition against excessive fines in the United States and California Constitutions, because the fines are grossly disproportionate to the failure to put a dollar or two in the meter.

Unfortunately, Los Angeles City appears to be attempting to remedy its fiscal woes on the backs of City residents and workers, who in many cases can ill afford to pay such steep penalties. 

Pimentel got his ticket on Eighth Street downtown at 3:10 p.m. on May 29, the suit says. He paid the $175 because he had to in order to register his vehicle at the DMV, it says.

The ticket started out at $63 for an expired meter, but it doubled because it wasn't paid within two weeks, the filing says. Added to that were a $28 delinquent fee and $21 for collection. Welch also ended up in a similar situation, also as the result of an expired meter, the suit says.

The suit says that a $175 ticket is 174.4 percent of the median daily wage in Los Angeles and a whopping 336 percent of the daily median wage for Latinos in L.A.

The suit argues:

A very substantial percentage of persons who receive City expired parking meter tickets, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck if they work at all, are financially unable to pay the $63.00 initial penalty, or the second $63.00 penalty, let alone the $175.00 "total due" amount that accompanies a City "Delinquent Status" notice.

The claim also argues:

The parking meter expiration penalties are unreasonable and oppressive, and grossly disproportionate to the seriousness of the violation  ... Imposition of these penalties is particularly onerous ... and disproportionately affects low income or even average income workers in the Los Angeles area ...

 ... There is a real and actual controversy between the parties as to whether the parking meter penalties described above violate the Eighth and 15 Fourteenth Amendment's prohibition of excessive fines.

Are you cheering yet? We wish the plaintiffs luck.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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