Friday, July 3, 2009

speeding ticket

Today, on my way home from work, I got my first ticket ever. For speeding. The problem is, I wasn't speeding. I'm sure everyone says that, but it's true. The officer said he clocked me going 45 in a 30, but that couldn't be true. The worst part is, my family just switched insurance companies this week and now the premium is going to skyrocket. And my mom is yelling at me for not trying to bargain with the officer or deny it when it happened. I didn't even get a chance to. He asked for my license and registration, then walked away for a bit and came back with a citation. He never even told me why he pulled me over until the ticket was already written and in my hand. What was I supposed to do? Hand it back and tell him he's wrong? As if I could say anything, I was so confused and intimidated, I didn't know what to do.

My parents and everyone at work says I should go to court and contest it. It seems like a good idea, but if I'm that confused and intimidated from just getting pulled over and cited, how could I defend myself in a courtroom without having a complete breakdown? I could just pay the fine of $129.50, plus insurance increases. Or I could do the infraction diversion thingy for $191.50. That erases it from my record as long as I don't have any violations for 6 months afterwards. But it's so unfair that I have to pay all this money just because I'm scared to go to court. When I wasn't even speeding. Just because I'm scared that no one will believe me. What is wrong with me? Why am I such a speechless moron every time I have to deal with confrontation? Why do I put up with crap I don't deserve?


Emma said...

It's easy for me to sit back and say that you should go to court - but I'm a lot like you in that I HATE confrontation. I avoid it at all costs (making me slightly passive aggressive, but y'know...)

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Anonymous said...

How fast were you going?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, it really depends on what kind of judge you get. Some judges will waive the fee simply because you showed up. Some judges will think you have nothing to prove and force you to pay it, plus extra court fees.

If you want to contest it, make sure you're very polite to the judge and dress nicely.

Anonymous said...

Your mom should not be upset that you didn't give your opinion to the officer. Frankly, you should not talk to the officer other than answering the few questions you are legally required, because it will just be used against you if you do decide to go to court. I understand you being nervous, and I would suggest that you just say to the judge "I have never been to court before, so please understand that I am nervous and upset". Few people are honest about their emotions, so it will establish you as a honest person. Even if you loose your case, you will be better for the experience and throw a wrench in the officers day...

BTW, I saw your plaid skirt on craftster...too cute! Your bangs are cute too. YAY. Good luck.

Alexus1325 said...

Definitely go! If you KNOW that you weren't speeding, you have every right to contest it (you have the right to contest evidence even if you WERE speeding).

I found a link about how to fight a speeding ticket in Canada, but many many things are the same in the States. I'll include the link at the end.

You should get a disclosure from the prosecutor's office before your court date, so that you know EXACTLY what evidence they have. If they try to give you the package AT the trial, instead of within a few days of your request, make a motion to dismiss the case right after the trial has been opened and before the officer is called as a witness.

On court date, you get to ask the cop questions, so be prepared with a nice little list. S/he'll first answer the prosecutors questions, so if you spot any inconsistencies in the story, add those to your list (yes, you're allowed writing materials in the courtroom). You should definitely ask if there were any witnesses to your offense (even if that detail is included in the paperwork you got, but the prosecutor didn't already establish it). Another important detail to establish is the last time the radar gun was calibrated. They're supposed to be re-calibrated every 24 hours or less. Another thing could mess with the radar gun: weather. Ask the officer to describe the weather during the incident (rain or fog, especially). Even if YOU know it was raining, ask the officer.
If the officer clocked you by following you, rather than with a radar gun, they need to have a certificate that their speedometer is calibrated properly. If it's a lasar-gun, you can challenge that, too, because the view-finder may not point EXACTLY where the beam points, potentially messing up readings. Don't be afraid to write stuff down while the officer is answering your questions, and during the prosecutor's questions. You can specifically address any inconsistencies in your questions to any of your witnesses, or in you own testimony.

You're allowed to call as many witnesses as you like, but generally the person who was beside you is enough. It may be totally unnecessary to call them up if your questions to the officer exposed some sort of soft underbelly. Just stick to the facts if you do have a witness. The prosecutor gets to ask questions of them, too.

Then you get to testify. You can start at the beginning, but just confirming the basic details as stated by Officer So-And-So is fine. Then be honest about what speed you WERE doing (eg 32 in a 30 zone), and your surprise at being given a citation for speeding without being informed of your offence by the officer (ooh, you should also ask the cop if it is policy to inform a driver of any alleged offence when pulled over).

So ya, in total, it's a complicated process, but it's REALLY worth it if you don't want your insurance payment to go up by 2 grand per year. There's nothing wrong with a little fear, btw. It's what keeps people alive. Just remember, it's YOUR RIGHT to challenge this ticket. Just rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and stick to your notes. Don't jibber, or cry, if you can help it, and the easiest way to do that is read your notes. If you're asked a question, look at your shoes while you think so that their faces don't make you more nervous. Even if you feel your face getting red and tears spilling down your cheeks, stick to your notes and keep talking! You can do it! It may be intimidating, because all those people in that room have "power" of some kind, but in the end, they're people, just like you, with families and worries and hopes.

I'm really sorry that took so long. You should look up how to fight a speeding ticket in your particular state, but this website

is where I got the information above (aside from the stuff I already knew). It's pretty comprehensive, and I think you should read the whole thing.


Alexus1325 said...

Oh ya, and I really love the stuff you make! Your skirts are always adorable :D