Posted by: bridget | 17 January 2007

Fighting For Property Rights, One Parking Ticket at a Time

The indomitable Robert Eberth got a parking ticket for having a car with an expired inspection sticker on private property. He then, with a dogged determination that would put Javert to shame, decided to fight this. The relevant Prince William code mandated up-to-date inspection stickers for vehicles parked on public roads. Mr. Eberth’s Taurus was in a private apartment complex. Virginia code prohibits the operation of a vehicle with a lapsed inspection.

Six years and three tickets later, Mr. Eberth finally succeeded, as the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled in his favour, distinguishing “parking” a vehicle from “operating” a vehicle and distinguishing residential lots from public lots. (Straight-up rules of statutory construction: “public” limits “parking,” and “operating” a vehicle must be distinct from mere ownership.)  Oddly, Prince William County will not refund money from its illicit parking tickets.  It is also lobbying to change the law so as to be able to ticket cars that are parked in driveways.  The pachyderm suspects that the Fifth Amendment covers the latter quite nicely.  She hopes that Mr. Eberth has another six-year legal fight in him.

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