Ohio Appeals Court Vacates Parking Ticket Due to Missing Comma

I do not typically summarize appeals-level state cases, but this one was sent to me by special request. On June 22, 2015, the 12th Appellate District of Ohio ruled on an unusual parking violation case. This case is a prime example of the importance of proofreading!

The driver in this case was convicted of violating the following ordinance:

It shall be unlawful for any person to park upon any street in the Village, any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle for a continued period of twenty-four hours. [emphasis added]

The town had intended for the ordinance to prohibit parking of a motor vehicle OR a camper, not a motor vehicle camper. The trial court decided that when reading the ordinance in context anybody reading the ordinance “would understand that it is just missing a comma.” The driver then appealed to the appellate court.

The driver argued that the ordinance applies to a motor vehicle camper, which is “ a camper that is propelled by an engine.” The appellate court agreed and essentially ruled that the rules of grammar must be followed. They also pointed out that interpreting the ordinance to prohibit parking of a “motor vehicle camper” 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.’ As written, however, legislative intent is clear from looking at the language used in the ordinance itself.”

To read the whole opinion, which is very short, click here: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/12/2015/2015-Ohio-2463.pdf

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