Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Day in Court

I have not written about the speeding ticket that I received in April. In some way I hoped that by not writing about it, maybe it didn't happen. It was so sad and upsetting at the time.
Of course it was a normal day where I was running late for institute. This past year I have had to conduct, and this has put and ridiculous amount of pressure on my life. It shouldn't have, but it did. Mostly due to other people not getting ready for school in a timely manner, thusly making me late.
Well actually this day, I was running a bit ahead of schedule. The new/old phone I had inherited from Jared was beeping at me for food. So I decided that if I kicked it into hyper speed, I could stop at Wal Mart and buy a car charger. If only I had thought through the process of checking out with the cashiers there that have been trained to work at the pace of a slug. You know that has to be a question on their application: "Can you work so slow that grass will grow faster than you check people out?" "Yes, then we want you."
So of course after the Wal Mart shopping experience, I was late. And yes I was speeding to get to the church on time. In my defense, I have been lulled into a false sense of security, having only received one speeding ticket in my 26 years of driving. And that was on a long trip to Utah. I have never been pulled over here in town, and I am ashamed to say that I speed rather often. So I was under the delusion "it couldn't happen to me". But here is the real kick in the pants, the motorcycle cop was hiding/lurking in the church parking lot. So just as I was about to reach my destination and park, in fact I could swear I was slowing down to turn into the parking lot, the cop pulled out and turned on the lights. Curses! And then to add insult to injury, everyone going to institute drove right past me and watched me getting my ticket. I was mildly, well OK completely mortified.
The cop did not even let me give any explanation or defense. He just took my license, registration, and expired proof of insurance. Then returned with my lovely ticket. He was very timely though, because I walked into the chapel just in time to go up and conduct. He would never be able to get a job a Wal Mart. Not having had time to ask anyone, I said the opening prayer myself. This was good for calming me down. Maybe the hymn should be amended "When a policeman pulls you over, did you think to pray?"

And all of this was probably more background information than you wanted to know. But because of the ticket, I decided to go to court and see if I could get the ticket reduced. So here are a few pictures of my day in court.

Here is the parking ticket machine. You have to get the ticket when you go in, but be careful not to loose it, or you will be charge the maximum amount of $20.00. Apparently there were a lot of criminals needing to attend court yesterday, because I had to go up to level 5 to find a place to park. Next you get the fun experience of walking through the metal detector. This is a good thing because then you know that you will not be shot or knifed while waiting to get your ticket fixed. It is mildly deceptive, because usually when I go through a metal detector it means I am going on a plane. This means a fun vacation. Going to court is no vacation.
Next you have to check in with the traffic department. At the door they give you a number, so you will know when it is your turn to go up to the window. Happily my number was not very far off, and so I did not have to wait very long. Again this is not the fun kind of number, like at the ice cream shop. Darn.
Here is a picture of all the lawbreakers waiting for a turn to pay for their tickets. When I did get called up, I was told that I am not allowed to take pictures in the court house. Oh, dear. I did not know. Perhaps I narrowly escaped being thrown up against a wall , searched, and cuffed. I don't know. The lady just asked me WHY was I taking pictures. When I told her it was for my blog, I am pretty sure she accurately assumed I was crazy.
Next they gave me a ticket to go across the hall and wait for courtroom C to be in session. Actually this is the part that was like a vacation, because I brought a book to read just in case there was waiting and boredom involved in the process. So yay for being prepared. Also yay, for expecting the AC to be turned to the setting of "Arctic", so I brought a sweater. Also, I had barbecue pringles to munch on. Yes, in reflection, it was very like a vacation, only with guys in uniform and guns walking around.
Finally after waiting for about an hour, we were taken into court. Court likes to have rules like, no shorts or tank tops, or cell phones. The judge spoke to all of us and told us that this was not the place to debate about what had happened. We just had to say "Guilty" or "No contest". No contest means that you are not saying that you did it, but you are not saying that you didn't. It is pretty much a way out for people who do not want to assume responsibility for their actions by saying "Guilty".
There were several cases called before mine. I have to admit to being fairly nervous. I am glad that I wasn't first. Some guy ahead of me was ticketed for riding a motorized scooter without a helmet, registration, and insurance. Who knew that was a law. Apparently neither did he. Bummer. Also there was a lady who was paying off a ticket and got another one for not slowing down for an accident and then hitting the accident. Yikes, this ticket had 10 points on it.

Finally, they said Patricia Hammond. For minute it did not register that it was me, because I guess I am not used to that formal name. I went up there.
The judge said "How do you plead?"
I said "Guilty"
She said "I am reducing the ticket to a parking ticket, you need to pay $190."
Then she asked "Can you pay that today"
I said "Yes"
She said "See the court receptionist for a receipt."
That was it, my day in court. I pretty much missed it, from being nervous. Not very glamorous or exciting, huh. Not like LA Law, or Law and Order, or anything I have seen on TV.

On my way out of the building, I made one of the officers take a picture with me. There were actually two officers talking. One of them was not comfortable being in the picture. This officer was willing, although he made me give him my blog address. He said that his girlfriend would like to see it. That is kind of inconceivable that anyone else would waste their time looking at my blog, if they don't know me.

So over all I am very glad I went. I don't have to do traffic school. The ticket would have been close to $400, so certainly two hours of my time was worth $200. And to be honest, I do drive slower, so I guess I learned my lesson.


peacekeeper said...

fun to catch up on all your posts. i have been blog lazy lately. glad you enjoyed your vacation at the courthouse and that your ticket was reduced. what a nice policeman to pose with the crazy stalker lady...does he know that? jk

Eliza said...

I agree with peachkeeper that asked if the policeman knows you are a stalker? Maybe he'll read your blog with his girlfriend, then he'll get clued in! THANKS for making me laugh as always!

Amie Earl said...

That same thing happen to me, getting a ticket when people you know are driving by. I have to agree that it is most embarrasing. Well at least you weren't bored.

Shawna said...

You crack me up! What a nice guy that officer was.