Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Traffic Court

Back in late Sept. I received a traffic citation for 'rolling' through a stop sign in our neighborhood. I had all 3 of the grandchildren in the car with me, so I'm always 'extra alert' when I have them. I stopped, but apparently not long enough to suit the motorcycle officer who pulled me over after I'd already gone halfway down the street.
I wasn't about to argue with him, I grudgingly took the ticket, paid the fine and there was an area to tick off if you claim 'not guilty' and wanted a court date. I ticked it. I was bummed out as in my 32 years of driving, that was the first citation I'd ever received.
It turns out that this particular traffic cop had been 'hiding' on the hill and had given out over 75 tickets that day. Not counting the two previous days. I didn't know he was there, I wasn't looking for police, as I wasn't trying to do anything illegal and get away with it.
Anyway, my court date was this morning. Since I don't drive downtown, my son-in-law John drove me down as Tom had to work and John was off.
When I found a seat in court, someone called my was a co-worker of Tom's and he lives in our neighborhood. I asked Ron why he was there and he said his wife Janice had gotten a ticket for rolling through a stop the same intersection I'd gotten mine. She was prepared though...she had photos. The officer had been hiding on the hill - facing UP and was using his rear view mirror to 'catch' people sliding through. Only Janice says she is also not guilty. She also produced a newspaper article that came out a few days after the tickets were given out showing that the city had collected over $11,000 from ticket citations in the last year and they were 'able to purchase' these super modern looking motorcycles for the department.
It turns out there were a total of 10 people at court today, that I knew of, could have been more, that had received tickets at the same intersection. We all live in this neighborhood, do they really think we don't know that stop sign is there?
Another guy had also brought photographs. He was the first one called up. I couldn't hear what he was saying but apparently the judge didn't like it and literally screamed at him " so whatta ya want???!!! A hearing with the police officer present?!! The guy was in his mid 60's and was very upset when he walked away and sat back down. I looked at Janice and she looked at me and we both muttered " this ain't gonna be good'.
When the 2nd guy had his turn in front of the judge, the judge muttered to the female police officer standing to the side "same intersection, same violation" This guy also wanted a court date with the officer.
Janice finally had her turn and when the female officer read her violation the judge said "another one". Janice was trying to show him her photos but he wasn't really interested and I couldn't hear what he was saying but when Janice passed by me she told me she got the points removed. There was one more guy before my turn and his was for speeding in another neighborhood and changed his plea to guilty and wanted leniency. He got it.
When my turn came, I thought, I'm keeping this very simple, this judge is mean and doesn't look like he's really interested in what we have to say anyway. I took the oath to tell the truth and he stated my infraction and asked me if I was pleading guilty or not guilty. I said not guilty. He looked at me for a few seconds as if I was supposed to say something more so I just said " I did stop at the stop sign, I had my 3 grandchildren with me and would never do anything to jeopardize their safety". He said something else but it sounded like mumbling to me and I said "excuse me sir, I can't hear you" He got this nasty look on his face like he'd eaten something that didn't agree with him and said rather testily to the female officer "will you please tell her what I said".
So she did. I don't know why he thought it was such an imposition to repeat himself. He's the one that wasn't speaking clearly, not me. My options were to request a court hearing ( ya really think I'm coming back here???)
or to have the points removed. I wanted the points removed and I wanted outta there. I hope I NEVER have to go back to court.
The way I look at it, if I had requested a hearing with the motorcycle cop, it was going to be my word against his anyway....and who do you think the judge would rule in favor of? Why wasn't the cop there today? And there was no guarantee that I would win or even have the points removed. I was playing it safe.

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