Florida Woman Furious After Getting $165K Fine For Parking In Her Driveway

Being a homeowner can be extremely rewarding, but it can also come with some serious setbacks. After a woman in Florida received a $165,000 fine for simply parking in her own driveway, she knew it was time to get to the bottom of it.

Living The Simple Life

Florida can be a paradise to some, but others simply tolerate it. For Sandy Martinez, she had dreams of bigger things.

sandy opening her door
YouTube/Institute For Justice
YouTube/Institute For Justice

Her home was an utter nightmare being too tight to fit anyone who walked in.

Underpaid And Unhappy

Similar to many people in her area, Sandy was not earning the wage she thought she deserved.

Family budget book, payroll envelope, banknotes and coins on table
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Living paycheck to paycheck came with many setbacks. She couldn’t always pay every bill, so she had to decide which one was more important each month.

Difficulty In Owning A Home

The housing market is one of the most competitive in the United States. While Sandy was fortunate to own one, it wasn’t the greatest.

exterior of Sandy's house
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

Also, she wasn’t alone. She lived with her mother and three daughters in one small house.

Everyone Has A Car

Sandy and her three daughters all owned their own cars, which was an accomplishment for the family.

car parked in a narrow driveway
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

However, it could sometimes be inconvenient to have four cars parked in a small driveway.

A Tight Fit

Since there were four cars and only one driveway, two of the cars would sometimes have to be parked on the lawn.

cars in the driveway with one parked on the grass
YouTube/Institute For Justice
YouTube/Institute For Justice

This was about one foot over the pavement line.

The Fines Start Coming

Sandy could not believe her eyes when she received an alarming letter in the mail.

close up of tire next to the lawn
YouTube/Institute For Justice
YouTube/Institute For Justice

She was informed that a $250 fine would be placed on her, the homeowner, because of how the cars were parked in the driveway.

Trying To Take Care Of It

While Sandy was furious over the fine, she did what she could to get things right.

inspector testing a red car
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

She called for an inspector to come and make sure the family was parking correctly.

The Waiting Game

Sandy waited on her porch for the inspector, but no one ever showed up. Even after countless voicemails, no one got back to her.

exterior of a porch
Francesca Tosolini/Unsplash
Francesca Tosolini/Unsplash

This made her think that the fine was taken care of and the matter was settled.

The Lantana Law

The city of Lantana in Florida has a law that states, “All off-street parking spaces, including driveways, but not including parking spaces located in swale areas as permitted by section 17-34, shall be asphalt, concrete or black, and shall be hard surfaced and in good repair in compliance with town codes.”

Chevrolet Volt electric car parked on the driveway of a suburban home
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

However, Sandy’s driveway had very limited space.

More Fines Are Delivered

Soon, Sandy forgot about the fine and she and her family went back to the ways things were.

Sandy's damaged fence
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

The city soon delivered them a couple more fines. One was for a patch of cracked pavement in the driveway and the other was for a damaged fence from a storm.

Dealing With The Unfair Fines

In Sandy’s mind, she knew it would be best to fix the issues, so there wouldn’t be any more fines.

person holding a stack of hundred dollar bills
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Even with her limited time, she was able to wire some money to get professionals to fix her pavement and fence.

An Urgent Notice Awaits

While these fines seemed ridiculous to Sandy, she did her best to get everything handled.

corporate mailroom employee uses gloves while sifting through letters
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A year later, she received an urgent notice. This would be the fine that took her over the edge.

Getting Charged Every Day

Even though Sandy fixed all the issues she was fined for, no inspectors came to see her progress.

close up shot of the fine Sandy received with $11,500 highlighted
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

This led to her being charged $250 per day by the city. She had no idea this was happening all this time.

Why Now?

Sandy and her family had lived in that house for 17 years, so it was appalling that all of a sudden they were receiving these pricey fines.

sandy crying while holding paperwork
YouTube/Institute For Justice
YouTube/Institute For Justice

Then, she got out her phone to call someone whom she thought could take care of this.

Getting Help

Sandy had heard of The Institute for Justice after learning about their work in helping people who were put in unfair and catastrophic situations by big government.

lantana town hall exterior building
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

She knew they would be the perfect fit for her predicament.

Going To Court

Sandy explained what happened to The Institute for Justice and they knew they had to take on her case.

paperwork from the trial
YouTube/Institute For Justice
YouTube/Institute For Justice

Next, they would be taking the city of Lantana to court.

The Trial Begins

Sandy prepared as much as she could with her lawyer. The city of Lantana simply brushed off the fact that Sandy had requested an inspector, but never got one.

Sandy's lawyer at the press conference
YouTube/Institute For Justice
YouTube/Institute For Justice

Now, the city had another demand for her.

More Fines For Sandy

The city of Lantana requested that Sandy pay an extra $65,000 for the cracked driveway and broken fence.

sandy crossing her arms in her driveway
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

Sandy was flabbergasted because she paid the fine the first time and had these issues fixed by professionals.

Feeling Defeated

Even though she had photos and receipts to prove she had fixed everything, the city would not lighten up.

Sandy in front of her driveway giving a press conference
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

Her lawyers weren’t going out without a fight. After a long few days of testimony, a city representative wanted to settle.

They Wanted More Money

Sandy looked at the settlement proposal and all it did was reduce her $165,000 fine to $25,000.

truck being hauled away
Imgur/DaddyLike
Imgur/DaddyLike

This only seemed fair to the city. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she quickly ripped the paper up.

Ready For The Next Steps

Sandy knew what the city was doing was totally unfair and she didn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

settlement copy showing the fine reduction
YouTube/WPTV News
YouTube/WPTV News

She and her lawyer talked to every news outlet and posted on social media as much as they could to spread the word about what was happening.

Sandy Won’t Give Up

Sandy stood at the front of her house as the news vans came by to tell her story from beginning to end.

Television and media vans line up
William B. Plowman/Getty Images
William B. Plowman/Getty Images

She was adamant that she would not pay a single penny because she knew the opposition was wrong.

Doing What’s Right

Sandy wanted to prove a point. She believed people should be free to mange their property without government control.

Real estate agents arrive at a brokers tour
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What she was doing didn’t harm anyone, so the fines did not make sense.

Should She Sue The State Of Florida?

Sandy’s lawyers tried to talk her into suing the state for these bogus fines, but she wanted to make her issues public.

exterior of The Florida Supreme Court building
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

She held a press conference in front of her house to get the word out.

Words From Sandy

At the press conference Sandy said, “I’ve been living her for 17 years now and I’m being fined over $160,000 for parking on my own property.”

sandy looking out a window
Isaac Holmgren/Unsplash
Isaac Holmgren/Unsplash

She still had more work to do.

Why The City Was Wrong

At the press conference Sandy also talked about how she sent many voicemails to the city asking for an inspector and received no response.

photo zoomed in on a microphone
Robinson Recalde/Unsplash
Robinson Recalde/Unsplash

The city refused to use Sandy’s testimony as evidence.

Hatching A Plan

Sandy had some more tricks up her sleeve with the help of her lawyers.

journalist on the phone at a news desk
Ramzi Haidar/Getty Images
Ramzi Haidar/Getty Images

She spoke to news stations across America and was able to find a voicemail of her calling for an inspector to use as evidence.

Her End Goal

By finding a recording of her voicemail to the inspector, Sandy was hoping for a declaratory judgement from the court to support her lawsuit.

wood gavel on a beige background
Tingey Injury Law Firm/Unsplash
Tingey Injury Law Firm/Unsplash

Her end goal was to get these fines to be deemed unconstitutional.

Justice For All

Sandy had a few reasons why she went ahead with suing the state of Florida.

american flag blowing in the sky
Alfred Gescheidt/Getty Images
Alfred Gescheidt/Getty Images

First, she wanted the city of Lantana to admit to their wrongdoings. She also wanted their actions to become illegal, so they couldn’t threaten anyone else ever again.

Getting Support From Others

As soon as Sandy spoke out about her situation, plenty of people across the United States gave her a ton of support and encouragement.

two hands holding a black heart
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

They thought it was honorable for her to go through so much trouble to get this resolved.

Some Disagreed With Sandy

There’s two sides to every issue, so it was only natural that some people sided with the city.

close up of woman frowning
Engin Akyurt/Unsplash
Engin Akyurt/Unsplash

They believed that if there was no law, the city would turn into total chaos.

Problem With The Driveway

Those who opposed Sandy thought that having four cars in a small driveway could be considered an eyesore.

two teslas in the driveway
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

They said the city was right to fine her in order to keep the area clean and have a booming economy.

The Lawsuit Continues

The trial is still ongoing for Sandy and she’s highly anticipating the court’s final decision.

exterior of a courthouse on a cloudy day
Sebastian Pichler/Unsplash
Sebastian Pichler/Unsplash

As of right now, things seem to be going in Sandy’s favor. Taking a stand can be daunting, but Sandy proved why it’s sometimes necessary.