By Jordan W. Charness; photo courtesy

“I don’t believe it!” exclaimed Peter as he wandered into my office in disarray with his hands filthy dirty, and looking annoyed and perplexed. Although I am used to having Peter walk in unannounced, he is usually properly attired and fastidiously clean. This time he was a mess!

Apparently, he was in the neighbourhood and had intended to drop in just to say hi when he heard and felt a funny rumbling in his car. It had taken him a few moments to realize that the rumbling combined with a hissing sound and increasing difficulty in controlling his car meant that it was likely that he had run over something sharp and his left front tire was deflating at a rapid rate.

He pulled over to the side of the road just in time to see the last of the air escaping from his tire. Peter is not a member of an auto club because he feels that he knows his way around cars and can handle most emergencies. Fixing a flat tire was certainly something that he could handle.

He put his flashers on, found something to chock his tires with, took out the spare tire and the jack and began to change his tire. Once he had loosened the lug nuts and jacked up the left side of his car he realized that he was getting dirty. He decided to walk a block or two to see if he could find somewhere to purchase some gloves and some kind of cheap shirt to throw over his clothes.

After a fruitless 10-minute search he was unsuccessful and returned to his car to continue with his repair. It only took him about 15 minutes and he had the spare tire firmly attached to the vehicle and the flat tire securely stowed in the trunk.

When he got back to his car, to his great surprise he noticed that there was what appeared to be a ticket on his windshield under his windshield wiper. He had no idea what that could be about, so he got out of his car and took the ticket in hand.

Apparently, during his 10-minute walk to try and find gloves and clothes, an overzealous parking patroller gave him a ticket for parking in a no parking zone! He looked around and saw that there was no parking on that side of the street at that time. On the other hand the parking patroller gave a parking ticket to a car that clearly had a flat tire and was jacked up and in the midst of being changed!

Peter wanted to know whether he could contest the ticket and win. While he was technically breaking the law by leaving his car in a no parking zone, he was not really parking as he was in somewhat of an emergency situation. There was no intention to park and leave the vehicle, but since it could no longer be driven he had to do something with it in a hurry. Pulling over at the nearest safe place and changing the tire was a reasonable thing to do.

If it went to court it would take an extremely literal-minded judge to convict Peter of illegally parking since there was clearly no intent to park at that time. Even though Peter may have been breaking the letter of the lawm he was certainly not breaking the spirit of the law and should never have received this ticket. Unfortunately, he will now have to take half a day off work to go to court to plead his case.

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