Lawsuit alleges Detroit parking fines are unconstitutional

Some drivers fed up with pricey parking tickets are taking those frustrations to court with a class-action lawsuit against the City of Detroit.

The suit claims that when you paid a parking ticket, the city wasn't just taking your money - they were violating your constitutional rights.

"These rates are obscene. They're not allowed by law," said attorney Shaun Godwin, who is suing the city.

He says the city has been ripping drivers off for more than 3 years. Godwin says Detroit emergency manager Kevin Orr announced a plan several years ago to raise the cost of parking at an expired meter from $20 to $45. 

The city began charging $45, even though the city council passed an ordinance keeping the $20 rate with a $10 discount if you paid within 10 days.

"People need to be compensated or have their money returned that was unlawfully taken from them," Godwin said.

In a lawsuit first revealed by The Detroit News, Godwin is asking a federal court judge to allow tens of thousands people who received parking tickets to recoup millions of dollars. 

It's not just the city processes that Godwin is challenging; it's the city's approach to charging drivers who don't keep their meters fed.

"Forty-five dollars for an overtime because you missed your meter by two minutes? That's not the purpose of a parking system. The purpose of a parking system is to have cars move between spaces so that people can go to businesses. It's not to have a revenue stream that will net a whole bunch of money for the city," he said.

Godwin says the city owes drivers a lot of money but it's not enough to put the city back into bankruptcy.