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Parking Ticket Struck Down Over Missing Comma

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The punctuation is mightier than the parking ticket

It is now law: Punctuation is important.

English teachers in Ohio collectively chuckled as a parking ticket was overturned due to a missing comma in a West Jefferson parking ordinance.

When Andrea Cammelleri’s truck was towed in February 2014, she decided to fight it.

“I brought the ordinance home to my boyfriend,” she said. “He read it. He goes, ‘it’s done. It’s missing a comma.’”

The law specifically applies a 24-hour time limit on street parking to any “motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” rather than any “motor vehicle, camper, trailer,” etc.

The case reached all the way to Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals, where Judge Hendrickson decided to strike a blow for punctuation enthusiasts (read: editors) the state over and ruled that the ordinance should be read as written, so the ordinance did not apply to the truck.

He wrote: “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. 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.’”

According to Cammelleri, the ticket will be expunged and she will be reimbursed for the towing and legal fees, totaling about $1,500.

“We won,” Cammelleri said. “I was surprised.”

We like to imagine that afterward, a very frustrated-looking legislator immediately went through the city’s law books with a fountain pen.