Man spends $80 to battle $5 parking ticket Motorist contends fine was unfair

November 15, 1992|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

Why would a Bel Air man lay out $80 to appeal a $5 parking fine?

Ameer G. Mikhail, who also may lose a half-day of salary to attend his appeal in Harford Circuit Court, says it's a matter of principle.

Mr. Mikhail, of the 2100 block of Windom Court, said he stopped at the Giant Food Store at Edgewood Shopping Center in September to make a quick purchase. He said he was in the store no longer than three minutes when he returned to his car and saw that a sheriff's deputy had ticketed his car for being parked in a fire lane.

"There are no fire lane signs nearby the loading area where I was briefly parked," Mr. Mikhail said. "I took pictures and went to court expecting the judge would agree with me."

The judge did not. District Court Judge John L. Dunnigan found Mr. Mikhail guilty, but reduced the $35 violation to a $5 parking fine plus $15 for court costs.

A court observer visited the area and found No Parking/Fire Lane signs posted the length of the shopping center except directly in front of the Giant store. Fire lane signs were posted at each end of the store, however.

"I think the judge was upset when I told him I would appeal, but I believe it's an injustice to anyone who stops there briefly and does not abuse the privilege," he said.

Mr. Mikhail said the only sign in that area, Parcel Pickup Lane, warns motorists to turn off the ignition before leaving their vehicle.

"This is a privilege granted to store customers," he said.

The sheriff's deputy, said Mr. Mikhail, even said he was sorry, but the ticket was already written.

Mr. Mikhail, 47, said he regrets having to clutter the court system with such an insignificant case and still hopes it will be dismissed before the hearing.

"I understand that some may not agree with how long you can be there -- two, three, four minutes -- but it should be clearly marked. If the time was limited to two minutes and I was there for 2 1/2 minutes, I would abide by that."

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