Attorney General Opinion On Excessive Parking Fines

By Myra Jones for Island Eye News

Myra Jones

On August 27, 2021, the South Carolina Attorney General, Alan Wilson, published an Opinion in which he concluded that “South Carolina courts would apply the Eighth Amendment excessive fines clause as well as a similar clause found in section 15 of article I (of) the South Carolina Constitution to fines for municipal parking violations.”   Senator Larry Grooms requested that the Attorney General issue an Opinion to address whether the municipalities of Folly Beach and Isle of Palms were violating the South Carolina and U.S. Constitution by issuing excessive fines for parking violations.  

Myra Jones, Director of the Charleston Beach Foundation, a group formed to provide “expanded and enhanced access” to Charleston County beaches, requested assistance from Senator Grooms in addressing the fines, and provided extensive research reflecting the following information:   “the average of fines for the six municipalities of Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island is $29.31. Using $29.31 as the basis for a standard fine, the minimum fine on Folly Beach of $60 is 204% of the standard fine and the ‘any other fine’ amount of $100 for parking on Isle of Palms is 341 % of the standard fine. Folly Beach also stands out with $1,000 fine for parking on Isle of Palms is 341% of the standard fine. Folly Beach also stands out with a $1,000 fine for parking in a handicapped zone. The next highest fine for this violation is $400, and the average fine of the other municipalities is $266.”

Jones issued the following statement:  “For more than a year, the Isle of Palms and Folly Beach have been issuing fines in amounts far and above the norm, and in amounts greatly exceeding the weight and nature of the minor parking offense.  These fines are yet another way that these communities are doing their best to discourage nonresidents from visiting the beaches we know and love, and in parking on roads that belong to all citizens of the State.    Now we have an Attorney General’s Opinion supporting our cause, and while we hope the Councils of the Isle of Palms and Folly Beach will reduce their parking fines voluntarily, anyone who receives a parking ticket in excess of the norm has reason to protest the ticket through  the court system.  Again, we thank Senator Grooms for standing up for all of us and preserving beach access for all South Carolinians.”  

Jones is a candidate for Mount Pleasant Town Council in the election to be held November 2, 2021.

A copy of the Opinion is attached for reference:

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