I got a speeding ticket last month. I was doing 19 over the limit in a zone that changes speed 3 times, 2 while going down hill. Not that that is an excuse. I drive that road often enough that I know the limit goes down halfway down the hill. I drive often enough with children having hysterics that their lollipop fell on the floor, that it shouldn't distract me from slowing down on the hill. But sometimes events overtake us and we find ourselves noticing a police car off to the side ahead of us, instinctively look down at the speedometer, hit the brakes just seconds too late and SHIT! those blue lights are for us.
This is hardly my first speeding ticket. I'm not trying out for NASCAR or anything but every 3 years, give or take, I get a ticket. Usually for for going too fast in a 35 or 45 zone because I fail to notice the limit changed. Since nearly all my tickets occur around where I live, this is solely due to failure to pay attention on my part and in nearly every case I willingly 'admit my guilt' by mailing in the ticket with a check for my fine. I see no point in trying to play gotcha with the cops at the courthouse asking about when the radar gun was last tested or calling the legality of the zone into question or hoping the cop won't turn up to testify (unless he is sick or there is something bad going down nearby, he'll be there). I was speeding & I got caught.
I have a slight learning disability with numbers. I see them backwards initially & unless I take focused time & double check, I write them down backwards. Sometimes even then I get them wrong, especially if it is more than 2 digits long. I looked at my court date & in my memory it was Jan 12 at 1:30. Then we went on vacation & I forgot to order a new wall calendar and it slipped my mind, until the 12th when I remembered, dug out the ticket & saw with relief it was actually Jan 22. I made a note to go pay the fine after the 15th.
But I never did.
So yesterday I am in the car, headed into town to run some errands & see my OB. I'm just started listening to a new Stephanie Plum mystery & the book starts with her explaining she is bounty hunter working for a bail bondsman & tracks down people who miss their court dates.
Court. dates. SHIT!
Ok, I think, it's only noon, my court time isn't until 1:30 & I am only 10 minutes from home, turn around, get the ticket, call for the fine, swing by the bank & then go pay it. Should be done by 1 at the latest.
Except my court time was 9:30am
Now I'm starting to worry a bit. I didn't show & I didn't pay the fine. What are they going to do to me? Put out a warrant? Suspend my license? Will they tack on court costs, making it a $300+ ticket? Will they arrest me if I turn up to pay the fine? I know they will take my license right then if it's suspended. How will I get home? Who'll meet the kids' bus? Should I even bother going in today or wait until Monday when DH can come with me? DH is away on business, he won't be back until tomorrow. No one I know can meet my kids' bus because they are meeting their own kids' busses. If they arrest me should I not even bother wasting the phone call & just tell the police to have CPS pick my kids up at the end of school?
The more rational part of my brain is telling me that I'm just looking at a huge fine, they only do that other stuff to people who have a history of vehicular citations. But the panicy part is saying "A ticket every 3 or so years regularly over a period of 25 years IS a history of vehicular citations. And remember the time you rear ended the handicapped school bus on the icy road going 5MPH? It was a decade or so ago but it's in your records. You are a danger to society.
I'm driving in to town, on hold with the court house (just racking up offenses here, though I had a hand's free set & had dialed before getting on the road), trying to find out what they are going to do with me and never reach anybody, while all this is going through my head. I get $300 out of the bank & go to the courthouse. The cops at the scanner say "Smile. It's a good day" and I smile because it's been drummed into me that by not smiling I am the rude person, not the person who demands a total stranger change their expression for no obvious reason other than their own pleasure. (anyone else find that odd?) They joke with me about leaving my hand grenades in the car, which shocks me because I didn't think they were allowed to joke about things like that (though maybe that is just the TSA). Apparently that is ok but not me taking a picture of their sign
must be taken out of your pockets
So I could sent it to the Blog of Unnecessary Quotations.
I get in the fine paying line & stand for 20 minutes, listening while the 2 cases in front of me get their licenses suspended and one of the clerks is being told off on the phone by someone who had been on hold longer than I had. I'm still trying to work out who to call to come & take me home so I can at least meet the kids' bus and suddenly it's my turn. The clerk says she'll have to check if I have a fine or am on remand. Remand? That means they'll arrest me right? What, no suspending first? Back she comes, apologizing because she thought I was someone else with the same last name. I just have a fine, no court costs even. 2 points on my license & here's a list of safe driving classes to take to get one of the points removed, have a nice day.
So then I drove home at exactly the speed limit because the fine took all my 'fun money' & I couldn't go shopping. But at least they didn't arrest me.