Back in August 2013, I got nailed by the North Carolina State police, again.
This time the mini was cruising along at 70+ mph in a 55 mph portion of Rt 220 North of Greensboro.
I thought about downshifting, slamming the throttle open further and trying to outrun the Dodge Charger the cop had, but Bum was with me. All she had to do was give me the eye, and I downshifted and pulled off the side of the road.
The kind officer had a smile and a pleasant voice as he gave me a $30 fine that came with $183 court cost fee for doing 70 mph in a 55mph zone. Crap!
Knowing that admitting to this would crank up my insurance, I vowed to fight this ticket to the very end.
I was going to court.
I got my driving record (downloaded from NC DMV for $12) and waited a few weeks for my court date.
I got up early, worked out, ate a big breakfast and headed off to Wentworth NC in Rockingham County by 7 AM. Bum warned me about speeding, so I left the house early.
I arrived at the Rockingham County Courthouse and you would have thought I was in downtown Atlanta. Big brick building with pillars and what looked like gold lettering on the front of the building.
I knew better than to take my switch-blade and Glock into a courthouse, so I left them in the car with the cell phone. All I had on me was the $213 for the ticket, my driving record, license, and car keys.
When I got to the second floor, there were already 50 people waiting in line. While they escorted us all into the courtroom another 150 people showed up. They seated us as the clerk and judge setup for traffic court.
I got to sit in front of some guy who sounded like the phone call comic Willie Richardson. His voice and the ridiculous stories he was telling about beating up a cop, getting arrested for hitting his old lady and drinking so much beer that he passed out as he blew a .057 on the breathalyzer after wrecking his car, reminded me of Willie’s CDs.
One after another we walked up to the judge with our ticket, license and either our driving record or driving school certificate. The people without their driving record or a driving school certificate were immediately told to go away and come back on October 29 with either their driving record or the driving school certificate. After seeing 15-20 people do this, I gave up trying to figure out why anyone would show up to court without being prepared.
If the infraction was a driving violation, the judge would say, “I can reduce this to Improper Equipment. Is this what you want?”
With no hesitation, each violator said, “Yes ma’am.” The judge would check a box on the ticket and say, “You are free to go. Pay the clerk of the court outside the courtroom.”
The same thing happened with me, “I can reduce your ticket to improper equipment, is this what you want?”
“Yes, ma’am,” was my response as well.
With my eleven $20 bills in my hand, I went to see the Clerk of the Court. “That will be $263, sir,” she said to me.
My reply must have been a normal response, “I thought the ticket was $213.”
Her reply, somewhat agitated in a manner was, “Sir the ticket is for $30, court costs are $183 and the charge for reducing the penalty is $50. Are you paying the $263 in cash now?”
My response, not having all the money and not just a little more miffed at this entire process was less than polite, “Wow, I knew this process was screwed up, but now it’s clear to me that the logic of this entire civil penalty activity is quite ill. Where is the nearest ATM ma’am?”
“At the sheriff’s office around the corner sir.”
“Thank you so very much for all your assistance ma’am. I will return.”
And I did. When I got back from the ATM machine I handed her 14 crisp $20 bills. She banged on the keyboard a little, hopefully saving me from the insurance points, put my $20 bills in her cash drawer and handed me back $17 and a receipt.
She sort of shooed me away with, “have a good day sir.”
And off I went.
$30 speeding penalty
$183 Court Costs
$50 penalty reduction fee
$263 total penalty for driving the mini cooper a smidgen too fast in Rockingham County North Carolina and not trying to outrun a Dodge Charger.
I’d say I’ve learned my lesson, but my record shows this is hard for me to do.