On Thanksgiving Day, I got a speeding ticket. I felt as if I was going with the flow of traffic, but Mr. Police said otherwise. He asked if I knew how fast I was going and I said, “maybe 80”? He said 87-88 and that I had passed 14 cars in the last 1 ½ miles.
Yikes, what’s my next move? I was certainly guilty of going over the 65 mph speed limit. Why try to finagle anything? I’m sure Mr. Police hears all kinds of sob stories from the people they pull over. Instead of telling him the truth (that I was running late to pick up a family member for Thanksgiving) and hoping I would succeed with the sympathy card, I asked him if he would write the ticket for under 85 mph. I had an inkling that a speeding ticket under 85 (which is less than 20 miles an hour over the 65 speed limit) would result in a lower fine. He was kind enough to do this.
SHOULD I GO TO TRAFFIC SCHOOL?
As long as you haven’t been to traffic school in the last 18 months and your moving violation is not a Major Violation (DUI, DWI, suspended license, etc.), you are eligible for traffic school.
I was eligible for traffic school and would do everything in my power to avoid a point on my driving record. I have no time for increased auto insurance rates when it’s something I can control. A point stays on your record for 3 years causing auto insurance rates to increase for the next 3 years.
By taking traffic school, you erase the 1 point so it will never show up on your driving record. This is a big deal because if you have one point and then get another point (as a result of another ticket or an “at fault” accident), you lose the “good driver” discount on your next auto insurance renewal. This “good driver” discount is no joke…20% off your auto rates. It was not worth messing around for me!
On the back of my yellow ticket (that was written in pencil so lightly that it could barely be read), it said my court date was 2 months from the day I was pulled over. Why the police are still using triplicate forms (it may have been parchment paper) and not the sophisticated electronic hand devices the parking police use is beyond me. Perhaps that is a topic for later….
I waited and waited to get something about my ticket in the mail. It never arrived. So, on the morning of my court date, I showed up to traffic court at 8am with the thought that I’ll be the early bird. It turns out Court opens at 7:30am and after going through the airport security measures (emptying pockets onto the conveyor belt and walking through the metal detector), I figured out I had to get in the back of a long line (about 40 people deep). Did I mention it was 8am on a Monday morning? I talked a little sports (it had just been released that Kobe was giving up ½ of his assets to his wife in the divorce) with my fellow traffic violators and finally reached the gatekeeper to tell me what to do next.
This person either wasn’t having a good day or didn’t like my show. Either way, it was not a pleasant conversation. I explained why I was there and that I had no idea what to do next. She said you can go in this line and pay your fine or you go into the courtroom and wait for the judge.
At this point, I received ZERO mail about this violation and still didn’t know the fine amount. I asked this person if I was supposed to get some information about the ticket in the mail…she sort of shrugged with a non-answer. Finally, she told me it was $290 for the ticket + the DMV fee for traffic school.
I thought about going to see the judge and asking the judge to lower my fine because of my stellar driving record. I haven’t had a ticket in over 12 years. Going into the courtroom is a roll of the dice. First of all, you have no idea when you will be called…it could take 5 minutes or hours. Secondly, the judge may not be willing to lower the fine. I decided my time was worth more than a day waiting in court and I decided to pay the $290. I was directed to another line with all the other thrilled payers (stoked to be stimulating our city’s economy).
Finally, I reached the front of the line, paid with a credit card, was handed a list of the traffic school options and walked out. I now have 2 months to take traffic school and mail the certificate to the DMV to erase my point. Oh, and by the way, you have to pay a separate fee to the traffic school.
I was glad my Traffic Court experience was over. Now, the traffic school class was hanging over my head. The next day I checked the mail at my house. Big shocker…guess what arrived? Only the mailed information about my traffic ticket/court that I had been waiting for the last 2 months! Here’s the kicker…. I open it up and on the top right of the document it says in bold letters Bring this Courtesy Notice with you to court. Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s like learning that you won an all-expense paid trip to Australia with one condition…you have to show up with a special document (that was being mailed to you) on 2/3/12 or the deal is off. The document arrives on 2/4/12 and now all you can do is toss back a Fosters and watch Dundee on the boob tube.
Had I received this mailer 2 days earlier, I would have known my options. I wouldn’t have wasted my time at court. I could have paid the fine on-line and booked my traffic school.
Moral of the story: Don’t get a ticket. Keep your insurance rates low and call Einhorn Insurance at 858-336-4644 for all your insurance needs and for random stories.
Maybe you don’t have the cleanest driving record? That’s not a problem. Einhorn Insurance offers great car insurance rates for people with multiple tickets, multiple points, DUIs, DWIs and a suspended license.