Society

Parking Ticket Dismissed Over Missing Comma

| by Lauren Briggs

An Ohio woman will not have to pay her parking citation because the city law was missing a comma, ruled an appeals court on June 22.

Andrea Cammelleri, of Middletown, Ohio, decided to fight her 2014 parking ticket, as she believed that, thanks to a missing comma, the law’s wording did not apply to her pickup truck. The judge ruled she would not have to pay the parking fine.

On Feb. 13, 2014, Cammelleri woke up to find that her car was no longer parked in front of her house. She initially called 911, believing it to be stolen, but the dispatcher looked up her car and informed her that it had been towed for violating a 24-hour parking city ordinance, as described in the court document W. Jefferson v. Cammelleri.

City officials argued that the law’s meaning was clear due to its context, but Cammelleri disagreed. She maintained her 1993 Ford pickup truck did not match the description in the city law cited on her ticket.

The West Jefferson law in question contains a list of vehicles that cannot be parked for more than 24 hours, including a “motor vehicle camper,” instead of “motor vehicle, camper…” reports WIVB 4.

When she first took her ticket to trial on March 18, 2014, the judge sided with the city, which, as it reads in the court document, contended, “anybody reading (the ordinance) would understand that it is just missing a comma.” Cammelleri was not ready to give up and appealed the ruling.

Judge Robert Hendrickson of the 12th Ohio District Court of Appeals threw out the 2014 parking ticket, ruling that the typo was significant enough to cause confusion.

“By utilizing rules of grammar and employing the common meaning of terms, ‘motor vehicle camper’ has a clear definition that does not produce an absurd result,” his ruling states. “If the village desires a different reading, it should amend the ordinance and insert a comma between the phrase ‘motor vehicle’ and the word ‘camper.'”

Sources: WIVB, Supreme Court of Ohio
Photo Credit: Charleston TheDigitel/Flickr