SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A Glendale police officer violated a woman’s due-process rights by towing and impounding her unregistered 1981 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz from a hotel parking lot “(w)ithout so much as a letter, a knock on the door, a note on her windshield or even a parking ticket,” the 9th Circuit ruled.
Virginia Clement lived in the hotel and had the hotel’s permission to park there, though she had not driven the car in seven years and had let its registration lapse.
“The officer had several options open to him in these circumstances,” Judge Kozinski wrote, such as asking the hotel’s front desk if he could speak to the owner of the unregistered car or leaving a ticket on the windshield. “This is what one might have expected from a conscientious public servant confronted with a car parked at the owner’s dwelling,” Kozinski wrote.
“In short, we see very little by way of a legitimate government interest in ordering a tow of the vehicle in the first instance, rather than giving the owner notice and an opportunity to avoid the cost and hassle of having to deal with a towed vehicle,” the ruling states.