Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let's Give 'Em Hell

A speeding ticket. I am the legal proprietor of speeding ticket issued by a California Highway Patrolman.


This happened in the middle of April. Which was about a year and a month after my last traffic ticket.
If you don't know why I gave a precise time between the two tickets it is because in the state of California, you cannot take traffic school to cover your ass if it hasn't been at least 18 months since you last used it to cover your ass before. i.e. I will have a spot on my driving record and my car insurance rate will go from a comfortable Seth Rogen to full on John Candy.


The whole fiasco went as such, the cop pulled me over and told me I was driving 10 mph over the speed limit. I told him I was going the speed limit and he replied that I was speeding about a block and a half ago before he pulled me over.

I was confused and he treated me like I was 10 as I handed him my driver's license and he looked at it like I had given him a pokemon card that I had scribbled on to make it look like a license.
I might as well have given him this.

He gave me a ticket and I went on my merry way.

I got the fine in the mail ($213) and was totally bummed. Then I got an idea. I had kept the little yellow slip he had given me,
Because I totally like scrapbooking frustrating times in my life.

I saw the little notice on the bottom about appearing in court and thought to myself, why that sounds like SO MUCH FUN.
Actually I heard you could get your fine lowered if you appeared before the judge because he would take pity on me blah blah blah, and thought that would be pretty cool. So I requested the day off from work in June and decided to see the court system at work.
And to see if all judges looked as constipated as this.

The time was set for 8:30 in the morning and I got there at 7:45 thinking I'd be the only one there. Unfortunately, there was quite a line for the traffic department of the court house. A line so long there had to be cake at the end of it.
But indeed it was a lie.
While waiting I hear a lady who worked in that unair-conditioned, god-forsaken place, shouting that the date at the bottom of my ticket isn't a court date but more of a pay up date. We were all waiting in line to pay for out tickets.
And to admire artwork like this.

I was confused at that point but I decided to wait anyway, you know, just to see what would happen. The line didn't start moving until about 8:15 am, and I didn't move up to a window to talk to someone until about 8:45. Finally I reached the window and talked to a lady behind a large pane of glass. I told her what I wanted to do and she signed me into talk with the judge in the courtroom.
I prayed it was Judge Judy presiding.
I went and sat down in the court room and awaited my doom with a bunch of other people. The dude sitting next to me actually brought a lawyer with him which seemed like he was overdoing it a little. This was only traffic court after all. And besides it didn't end up helping him because he had to pay his fines anyway.
We watched a video explaining what was about to go down, which seemed to have been created by a 12 year old with windows movie maker and a knack for legal jargon.
"Pay your fines, bitches!"
Basically we could plead guilty and pay our fines, plead no contest and perhaps lower our fines, or plead not guilty all together and set a court date for the officer to appear and argue his case.

Only the last option would allow me to clear my driving record of any points and it would force the officer to come to court. So I decided to the officer hell. And that's what I decided to do. So when the judge called me up to the stand I smiled and said, "Not guilty!". The judge set my court date for a month later and I was told they would subpoena the officer. They had better subpoenaed the shit out him.

During those four weeks, I was freaking out. I didn't know what I was going to do or say. I found a website about this sort of thing called, Help! I got a ticket!. I began researching my case intensely. According to the site I did have a case against the officer and I wasn't about to vomit on the stand and point at my breakfast and tell the judge that the minced pieces of bacon were part of my cross examination.

You stay in my tummy, bacon.
The website did give me a lot of confidence and I walked up to the courthouse the day of trial with some excitement. But then when I sat down in the courtroom again, I felt as though I was going to pee my pants. (But I didn't! Wooo.)

The trial went rather quickly actually. Because when the judge called roll my officer did not show up. And guess what. My case was then dismissed! I did not have to pay the fine and my record remains clean. I am a little disappointed I wasn't able to face my accuser and see if I could have argued my case, but I am relieved.

When the judge told me my case was dismissed I started dancing and I received some awkward stares as I boogied my way out of the room.

In the end, I got really lucky. But I think it is worth while to fight your ticket. You may get your case dismissed like me. Or you can fight your ticket with the facts on the help website. I'm really curious to know if others have stories like mine, be sure to let me know. =)