Court Tosses Truck Owner’s Parking Citation Because Of A Missing Comma

It pays to read everything carefully — or rather, you might not have to pay a fine if you’re as sharp-eyed as one Ohio woman. She ended up having a parking citation tossed by an appeals court, all because she noticed there was a comma missing in the local law.

As anyone who has ever written a sentence knows, punctuation is of the utmost importance. And in one Ohio village, English teachers are likely sighing and shaking their heads at a grammar mishap involving the local law on parking regulations.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the 12th District Court of Appeals overturned a parking violation [PDF] for a woman living in West Jefferson. She’d been convicted in municipal court for leaving her pickup parked on a village street for more than 24 hours.

But she pointed out that the municipal ordinance prohibited “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” from daylong parking.

Her truck, she said, is not a motor vehicle camper. It is a motor vehicle, which would’ve been covered if the law had a comma where it should’ve.

The village argued that it was just a typo and therefore didn’t invalidate her violation. The trial court upheld that view, saying that when reading the ordinance in context, it unambiguously applied to motor vehicles and “anybody reading [the ordinance] would understand that it is just missing a comma.”

Grammar won the day, however, after the court sided with the truck owner.

“If the village desires a different reading, it should amend the ordinance and insert a comma,” Judge Robert A. Hendrickson wrote.

Oh, snap.

Justice Insider: Missing comma gives judges pause [Columbus Dispatch]

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  1. DrRon says:

    Got a 90/70 ticket several years ago. The prosecutors office tried to have the ticket reinstated after having gotten it dismissed in court. The prosecutors motion had a few errors but enough that according to state law, any appeal heard would have required the judge to cite the prosecutor for contempt of court. Finally all dismissed to prevent appeal of motion. Last points I got were 1986 and due to this case’s screwups, the judge admitted that I currently have -4 points.This was written up in the National Motorists Association magazine a year or two ago.