Sunday, June 27, 2010

The End of My Speeding Ticket Saga

OK, maybe SAGA is a bit of a stretch, but it has concluded. To catch you up, here are the previous two posts regarding this affair.

I now bring you the conclusion. I had my court date set. I was ready to go. I have my photos of the intersection all ready, I knew what I was going to say and was ready to try my case. It was so annoying to go through all this, but I was happy it would finally be done and I have to say it was also very interesting to go through the whole process and see all of the tricks the system uses to try and get you to just plead guilty and take your money.

They make it easy to pay, hard to contest. Pay right online! But to schedule a hearing you have to come down to the courthouse, then you have to pay your fine anyway as bail, then come again to the courthouse to try your case. And if you are found guilty, you can’t have traffic school so your insurance will go up too. Best just to pay us and take traffic school. They really just want you to shut up and pay. Well, for better or for worse, I’ve really never been very good at shutting up. And paying, well, let’s see where that goes.

So I arrive at the courthouse. Early, of course. I get travel anxiety so I really have to arrive everywhere a little early or I panic that I’m going to be late. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Everyone else is looking around to see if the cop is going to show up. They schedule these traffic courts in bulk, so all the cops show up in bulk.

I didn’t see my cop. Hey this would be easier than I thought. But as we all started checking in sure enough he showed up. In bulk. (yes, I have just made another fat joke. But folks, he was HUGE.) A fair amount of the cops showed up, but not all of them. If your cop doesn’t show up it’s an instant dismissal. The bailiff gave everyone one last chance to plead guilty if they were hoping the cop wouldn’t show up. Geez, enough. It’s your right. Go through the trial. At this point you have nothing to lose.

So I was ready. I had my pictures of the intersection with no school zone sign and readied what I was going to say. But then, something very unexpected happened.

The cop called my name and I went over to him. This normally doesn’t happen. He looked at me and said “This is going to get dismissed. The signage is messed up.”

“I know, that’s why I’m here,” I replied.

“I didn’t know it at the time. Wait for the judge to call your name” He was going to dismiss the ticket when my name was called.

So my name was called and the cop dismissed the ticket himself. This surprised the judge a bit, but it was soon over. I had won. I went over and thanked the cop. I had to give him a lot of credit. I don’t think every cop would have done that.

We walked out together and he agreed that he didn’t think it was fair. “That’s why they call it justice” he said. What a cool guy. Granted he was walking really slow and I started to get nervous. What if he changes his mind or finds out I called him fat in three blog posts. So I quickly thanked him again, quickened my pace and walked out.

So it was over. I saved a few hundred bucks and an insurance rate hike. Some days, you actually get to win.

It was actually an interesting experience and I’m glad I went through the whole thing. I definitely learned a few things. There are two things they definitely don’t advertise that you should know, if you live in California. Other states may have different rules that they don’t want you to know about either.

1)If you contest and go to your arraignment, the judge can waive the fine as your bail so you don’t have to pay a thing unless you’re found guilty at your trial date. Otherwise you have to wait many weeks to get your “refund” if you win.

2)Even if you lose your trial, the judge can also still you traffic court if he is so inclined so the points won’t go on your license.

So now I pay extra close attention to where the schools are. And the signs. And the cops. And the ice cream trucks. OK, I digress. But they’re the hardest to find, for some reason.


Juli Ryan said...

Wow, your cop showed up. That might be the most surprising part of this saga (other than the ticket being dismissed). Kudos.

Badass Geek said...

Nice, dude. The feeling of victory would have been better if you had been able to show all of your evidence, but at least the end result was the same.

Snowbrush said...

I heard that Lady Justice uses those scales to weigh money, and that whichever side loads her up with the most money, wins. I believe this to be generally true. I suppose you can be glad that your experience was only with traffic court as opposed to one of those situations that leave you bankrupt even if you win.

Congratulations. You fought the law, and you won.

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