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A New Lawsuit Says Wilmington Is Running an Unconstitutional Towing and Impound Racket

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Fourth Amendment

C.J. Ciaramella | 9.24.2021 4:30 PM

A new lawsuit accuses the city government of Wilmington, Delaware, of running an unconstitutional towing and impound program that strips owners of their vehicles over petty ticket debts.

The Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, filed the lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of two Wilmington residents who say their vehicles were towed over improperly issued tickets and then scrapped after they couldn't afford to pay off the accumulating fines and storage fees within 30 days.

The suit alleges that Wilmington allows two private towing companies it contracts with to wrongfully take and sell residents' cars without providing proper pre- or post-seizure hearings, violating owners' Fourth Amendment and due process rights. And because the value of the cars often far exceeds the owners' debts, IJ argues the practice also violates the Eighth Amendment's protections against excessive fees and fines.

"When they took my vehicle, it hindered me from being able to get around. I have a bad back. I can't do a lot of walking," Ameera Shaheed, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said in a press release. "I needed that vehicle. It was my pride and joy."

According to the suit, Shaheed's car was ticketed six times........

© Reason.com

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