updated 9/17/2009 1:03:15 PM ET 2009-09-17T17:03:15

The Transportation Department said on Thursday it will fine Spirit Airlines as much as $375,000 for breaking consumer rules.

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The civil penalty includes $215,000 that the small discount airline must pay right away, and another $160,000 it would have to pay if it breaks its agreement with the Transportation Department in the next year. The DOT said its Aviation Enforcement Office will conduct a follow-up investigation of Spirit during the coming year.

Spirit did not admit or deny wrongdoing in its agreement with the government.

The DOT alleged that Spirit broke rules in how it handled passengers bumped from overbooked flights, left some fees out of its airfare ads, and suggested in response to customer complaints that it was following government rules when it wasn't.

The DOT also said that Spirit failed to provide a copy when asked of the government's rule prohibiting discrimination against disabled passengers, and that it failed to keep copies of customer complaints and didn't file reports on time.

"We will continue to take enforcement action when airlines violate our rules," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. The DOT said the penalty is a record for violations like those found at Spirit.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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