Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Inner Mario faces a speeding ticket

A few days after New Years I was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding. I usually take the commuter train but that day I needed to use our car. Which means a bit of hair raising driving from downtown to our suburb.

Early in my driving days I discovered speed. As in the gas pedal not the drug. I love driving fast. After graduating from college I drove across the country with two guys and acquired the nickname Mario Andretti somewhere in North Dakota. This while driving a 1973 Dodge Dart.

So I was in touch with my inner Mario as I was driving to get the kids. And a trooper pulled me over. He handed me a $170 ticket for going 47 mph in a 25 mph zone. Yes. One hundred and seventy dollars.

What does any self respecting driver do facing $170 ticket and an increase of car insurance? Contest.

In the mail arrived a form with the date and time to appear at a court house. I lost the form.

Not a good start.

On the appointed day, I went through the metal detector and was sent to a bench in a small hallway. I had visions of a judge in a courtroom. I also thought that if the actual trooper who issued my ticket didn't show up for the hearing, I was off the hook. If that didn't work, I was going to plead late-for-picking-up-my-kids.

I was in the first group of 10 brought into a little room with a desk and benches. There was a trooper but not the one I dealt with. Sitting at the desk was a man referred to as "Mr. Clerk" with a stack of tickets.

It became apparent that the trooper was standing in for all the troopers who wrote the tickets. Damn. He would start by saying "Mr. Clerk, the Commonwealth contends that the driver....." Nearly every single one of the situations he described were on a two to three mile stretch of a particular parkway.

The first one was a guy who, among other things, didn't have his license on him at the time of an accident. The clerk dismissed the fine. Awww come on. Even I know you should have your license on you.

The next guy got up. English was not his first language (don't assume it was Spanish. I am guessing he was Lebanese) and he explained he was trying to get to his special needs daughter at after school care. She was sick. Mr. Clerk reduced his ticket to $100 and told him that he could contest that if he chose. The guy paid up on the spot.


Then a young woman got up with her dad to explain what happened one rainy evening when her dog distracted her causing her to hit a tree and destroy her car. Mind you, the dog was in a travel case. Not sure how a dog in a box could distract you. In your lap, licking your face, pawing at the wheel - that is a distraction. Yipping in a box is a minor nuisance. Mr. Clerk asked if she was o.k. She replied yes and her dog was fine too (Phew!).

She was dismissed without a fine.

Then I was called up and I was ready to plead my case.

"Mr. Clerk", said the fill in trooper, "the Commonwealth has no interest in pursuing this matter since the trooper did not note with what method he recorded the speed."

Some scribbling on a sheet. "O.k." says Mr. Clerk, "you are free to go."

Duh. Thank you, I muttered before bolting in case they change their minds.

But now I'm convinced, just like in Better off Dead, there is a State Trooper looking for my minivan on the parkway ready to pull me over saying "I want my $170....".


Jenn said...

You are so lucky.

The last day I was in the country and the last day I owned my car, I was pulled over in Penn Yan for doing 47 in a 35. It was on a street that I always speed on, because it leads up to the main road and there are no lights, no cars, usually no people.

I told the local police officer I was leaving for China the next day. He still gave me a ticket. $150.

Bastard. I didn't contest, as I would have not been able to appear.

soccer mom in denial said...

I never KNEW that story.

I couldn't agree more. Bastard.

Jodi said...

You are one lucky girl. Stuff like that never happens me.

Although I did get a warning recently. I was going really fast and Michael was sreaming, I think the cop just felt bad for me.

jenn in Holland said...

You are so lucky.
I am not prone to tickets but did manage one years ago: speeding in a school zone. Officer Toocoolforschool didn't buy my excuse that I didn't know it was a school zone since I lived just around the corner. But I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW.
Upshot from that experience was 8 hours in traffic school. Oh, that was a joy.
Love the story! Congrats on the "win".

soccer mom in denial said...

Jenn - $150 for 12 miles? I was getting $170 for 22 miles! I guess the miles are more expensive in rural NY.

Jodi - I think getting a warning is pretty lucky!!

Jenn in Holland (and thanks for that - I've got wonderful Jenns in China and Indonesia) - 8 HOURS of driving school? I think that is worse than cash.

Gunfighter said...

Hey, be nice to us boys in blue!!

Alex Elliot said...

That is good luck! I love the movie Better Off Dead :)