Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Traffic court: a reasonably happy ending

This afternoon I went to traffic court. It was a matter of principle...because....
This is how old I was when I got my first ticket: 18! I was driving on SW Oleson Road, not too far from where we live now. I don't remember my speed, but it was probably 40 going in a 30-mph zone.
In my parents' front yard when I was 18
And this is how old I was when I had my last ticket: 21.

In the Rocky Mountains, CO, 1982, on that trip

It was driving through Soda Springs, Idaho, when my college friend Debbie, childhood friend Peary, and I drove my aunt and uncle's Volvo back across country for them the summer after I graduated from PLU. We were driving through the town on the interstate, and the speed limit dropped and I was trapped...again not going that fast, but faster than the speed limit.

And now, fast forward 27 years later...last March I got a speeding ticket via photo radar while I was driving to dinner with my English sister-in-law--41 in a 30-mph zone, once again! I went to the courthouse a few months ago to request a court date, and that was today.

I knew it was unlikely it would be dismissed, but I wanted to do whatever I could in case it might be. Traffic court was supposed to start at 1:30 p.m., but the judge didn't show up until 2:45! The court clerk apologized, but I was a bit chagrined when the judge finally showed up and didn't say a word of apology!

In the meantime, several of the police officers were there, and they offered to discuss our tickets with us. Finally, my officer gave that offer again and said that there might be a possibility to get the penalty reduced, so I went over and gave him my name.

He was actually very nice. In the end, he reduced my ticket to $110 (it was originally $160), the lowest-possible amount, but then he reduced it further to $60 because of my perfect driving record! So it was worth it to go to court in the end...not just for the money, but also because I felt better about the time spent. Some of that positive feeling came from the nice police officer. He wasn't a villain like I was making him out to be in my mind. :) And I told the judge and officer that I hope I don't get another speeding ticket for at least another 27 years!

So it could have been better (the officer not showing up and the ticket being thrown out), but it could have been much worse. And on our road trip this summer, I will honor those speed limits.

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