Thursday, September 9, 2010

a tale of woe...

All I can say is NEVER get a ticket in Romeo.
Here's my story (excuse?...maybe)...

It was a Monday.  I had just finished up my Meals on Wheels route and was heading to my parents house for the afternoon.  I call it my Senior Citizen Monday.

I headed east out my driveway and down the VERY steep hill going toward downtown.  I was not paying attention to my speed, but I was not using the accelerator because I was heading down the hill.  There is a traffic light at VanDyke (Prospect) and Gates, but if you don't have to stop for that, your momentum continues and you are most likely picking up speed as you pass the cheesy motel (La Juliette a.k.a. The Romeo Inn).  Right about the area where you start to curve around to go into town; where Gates changes into Main Street, there is a small dirt driveway that has a dumpster at the end...and there he was; Officer Gorgeous (inside joke between Jbo and me).  Now, I was not going any faster than the people that were in front of me, but I was the last one around the curve.

The next thing I see are the lights.  Oh Geez!  I remember seeing him in that spot when I was finishing up my last delivery and was heading back to the Senior Center on Morton.  Damn! I wish I had remembered he was there.

Typically, when I stop my car and turn off the engine, the next thing I do is immediately take off my seatbelt.  It's an impulse.  In a case where I'm getting pulled over, I do the same thing, but then I worry that the officer didn't notice that my seatbelt was ever on in the first place...then I think, maybe I can sneak it back on, but if I do that, he'll think I never had it on and will question me about why I'm putting it on and I'll get an extra ding when he writes me a ticket.  So, instead I just sit there and wait and see.

First thing the officer says to me is "Speed limit on Gates is 25".  Smarty me says with a sort of surprised questioning tone "I live on Gates...?".  He says he clocked me doing 40MPH, why do I suppose I was moving that fast?  Smarty me says "I would think it has something to do with the hill".  He says that from where he clocked me, there is no longer a hill.  I beg to differ (I didn't say that), but if you had a marble and you placed it where he clocked me, it would be flying down the hill (that no longer exists) and probably would be clocked doing 40.  Then he asked me what my license plate means.  I told him that it has to do with our online MINI club and that it's me and my husbands screen name.  He asked me if I've received a ticket lately and I told him that yes, I have.  He goes back to his car.

When he comes back he tells me that where I live, the speed limit on Gates is 35.  So, he is going to write me up for 5 miles over the speed limit.  He asked me where I received my last ticket because it hasn't shown up yet.  I told him in Waterford (or wherever I was).  When they write you a ticket, all you do it pay it and it "goes away".  He said that it is similar here in Romeo, but that I would have to go to court.

My court date was yesterday at 2pm.  I was not going to worry too much about it because I've been through all of this before (I think this was my third time in 28 years that I've had to go to court for a ticket).

I believe the judge was related to one of the previous owners of our house.  One from the early 70's - the Romeo Attorney.  Same last name and I believe when I spoke to said Attorney last year, he mentioned that his son was a Romeo judge.

There were 3 kids (16+ years old) and maybe 4 or 5 adults to be judged.  The session started out with a little lecture from the judge stating that 30,000+ people die each year to traffic accidents and, in his words "nobody cares".  Then he went into the whole cell phone and texting distractions that cause auto accidents.  I was thinking that I'm probably the only one who actually pulls over to text and even sometimes to talk on the cell phone (like when I was headed to the hospital last week).

The first guy that was up was in his late 30's and the judge chewed him a new one.  He had something like 7 points already, so he was not going to get a break (like removing the points he was about to receive).  He was a little too mouthy for the judges approval.  He was told that he would need to take a class + the $120 for 5 miles over the speed limit.

Next guy was one of the 16+ year olds.  He was dressed in a suit.  He was very nice and accepted his judgment.  The judge told him that he would need to pay $195, which he then made a side note that if you don't receive the points, you are charged an additional $50 and that is why his judgment is more than what was written on the pamphlet.  Nice to tell us now.  It said on the pamphlet that we needed to be sure to bring the correct amount of our charge, but I'm not sure any of us knew that we would need to pay an additional $50 to have our points erased.  Don't worry, they have an ATM machine in the lobby or if you want to use your credit card, an additional charge of 5% will be added.

Next up - me.  He asked me my driving record.  I said I believe I have no points on my driving record.  He asked if I had any other violations in the past two years.  I figured from the first guy that was in front of him that he was well aware of what violations we've had, so I told him that yes, in the last two years, I have received a ticket for speeding.  He asked me what happened with that one and I told him that all they required from me is payment and the points would "disappear".  He said we don't do things like that around here; otherwise how do you know who the bad drivers are.  I'm thinking many things at this point like - I see "bad" drivers out there all the time and I'm not one of them.  I'm not darting through traffic at outrageous speeds.  I was just caught in a speed trap; down a hill, where the limit changed from 35 to 25 and within a few feet, it was back up to 30.  I was also thinking that I see a lot of police officers driving very poorly.  Doing things we would be stopped for, but for some reason, they are "allowed" to do these maneuvers - just not fair.  But alas, I said nothing and took my medicine.

The medicine was $120 for the ticket (5mph over), $50 to have the points disappear AND a driving class, which I found out at the cashiers desk that would cost me an additional $85 and 4 hours of my time.

Yes people, that's $255, + 1/2 a day off work, + 4 hours of my precious weekend time...all for 5 miles over the limit, caught in an obvious trap at the bottom of a steep hill.

At the cashiers desk I looked over at the 16+ year old boy, dressed in his suit, paying his outrageous ticket (for 10 over) and asked him where in Romeo was he pulled over?  He told me it was as he was entering the expressway.  I asked him if he felt it was a trap?  He grinned a little and nodded then said that he was a little distracted that day because he had just picked up (or dropped off) his sister at rehab.  It's too bad we don't feel confident enough to fight our fines.  He nodded.  I told him that mine was bad too (however, probably not as bad)...I got pulled over on my own street.

1 comment:

Jabbles said...

I have managed to get away with no tickets on my record, I did get pulled over for speeding once I even paid but due to a clerical error I got my money back and charges dropped.
I try to avoid going to fast but I am surprised I have not been caught another time. especially in so called traps.

It is frustrating to see so many bad drivers/unsafe cars out there yet some get pulled over for breaking an arbitrary speed limit.