My Evening At Traffic Court

Theory is: if you own a car, you’re going to get a ticket one day or another. While that theory may be true, it doesn’t mean it’s true for me. I’ve been driving for nearly fifty-two years and I have a near perfect record. I was in an accident the first day I got my driver’s license (not my fault!) and I’ve never had an occurance ever since. No accidents, parking tickets, moving violations, speeding tickets, DWIs………anything!  I did have a few bouts with parking tickets but I always fought them and I always won!

This current parking ticket I received on December 1, 2018 was no exception. Hubby and I attended a Christmas parade in a local town here and when we got back to our car, a parking ticket was submerged under our wiper blade. I pulled it out and read this caption as to the cause of why we got the parking ticket:

ticket copy
Can anyone tell me what #12 ‘Other” means?

Not knowing the cause of this parking ticket, I sent it back (within the 30days) claiming I was ‘Not Guilty’ and requesting a trial.  After 35 days, on January 7, 2019 hubby and I were concerned we didn’t hear back from the court so we went to the village court and spoke to the village court clerk. She spent over 20 minutes looking for our returned answer (there were tons and tons of other parking tickets, as it appears the town handed out A LOT of parking ticket violations that day) Once the clerk found and confirmed our answered summons, she noted my phone number on the back of the ticket and told me she would call me if there were any problems.

Four months after meeting with the village court clerk, on April 19, 2019 I get this notice in the mail:

2nd notice

WTF? I failed to appear in court for trial on April 3, 2019?? How can that be? I was specifically on the lookout for the response from the village court. I never received the notice PLUS I can prove I never got the notice since I get a written email notification (complete with mail images)  from the Post Office each and every day I get mail.

I smell a racket, don’t you? If you miss a trial date your liability fee doubles. Plus, here in the state of New York, surcharges are added to each and every fine. The basic surcharge starts at $25 per ticket and can go up into the hundreds, depending on the charge. For example: if you get a ticket for texting while driving, the fee is $150 and the surcharge is $93 making your total due NYS $243. Gulp. That’s a lot of money!

I knew I was doing the right thing by standing up to the parking ticket. What I didn’t know was that the village didn’t play fair and square. Also, in New York State parking violations never really go up in front of a judge. It’s resolved between you and the prosecuting officer who wrote out the ticket in the first place. It’s advised to get to your court date early, meet with the cop and try to work out a deal.

The good thing was that the second notice I received clearly stated what my parking ticket violation was for: Statue/Section 1202-A, which is parking less than 30 feet from a stop sign. This was a valuable piece of information because it enabled hubby and I to go back to the spot where we parked (as indicated on the ticket) and look over the spot PLUS take photographs, which we did:

car vs stop sign
There’s the stop sign, and here’s about where we parked our car.

As you can see from the photograph listed above, it was nearly impossible for us to have parked closer to the stop sign because there was a rather large tree on the sidewalk. If we had parked closer to the stop sign, I wouldn’t have been able to get out of the passenger side of the vehicle as the tree would have been in my way.  I wouldn’t have been able to open the passenger side door.

So, on May 1, 2019, armed with this information, PLUS photographs to prove my parking position PLUS over sixty days of Post Office email print outs proving I never received the first notice PLUS the in-person contact I had with the village court clerk, hubby and I appeared at my ‘trial’.

My ticketing office was the villages senior officer. He was a rather tall fellow and looked as mean as all hell. I checked in with him and immediately my husband told the cop we never received the first notice.

You’re here now, aren’t you, so obviously you get your mail” said the cop. Hubby went on to show the cop the print outs I had clearly proving I never got the notice, plus when my husband overturned the original parking ticket, which the cop had stapled to a clip board, as hubby searched for my phone number handwritten on the back, he told the cop we met with Vickie (not her real name) on January 9, 2019 and what had transpired. Why would we make it a point to meet with the village court clerk to ensure receipt of our parking ticket only to not show up at the court date?

Well, I believe this was the date of our Christmas parade, parking was tight and you parked too close to the stop sign, making it difficult for other vehicles to make the corner turn!” bellowed the officer.

How do you know the car was parked less than the 30 feet?“, quietly and calmly asked I of the police officer.

Because I said so!!” was the cops emphatic reply. With that answer, I clenched my teeth together and clamped my lips down tight. My sixth sense told me that there was no way I could have a conversation with this cop. It was his word against mine and he was going to be right. I knew I should have kept my mouth shut but I didn’t. My husband gave me a nudge in my legs, but I spoke up anyway.

That may be” said I “but I have a photograph that proves other wise.” And with that I showed the officer my photo, the same one as posted above, and told him it was nearly impossible for our car to have been parked any closer to the stop sign, less than the 30 feet as required by law,  since I wouldn’t have been able to get out the passenger side.

After a moment of silence, the police officer decided to dismiss the charge BUT put me on 6 months probation. As long as I didn’t get another parking ticket till October 6, 2019, everything would ‘just drop off as if it never happened‘. I agreed to the new arrangement. The police officer said I still had to go up in front of the judge and confirm our new agreement.

It took an hour of waiting (and listening to all the other folks in the court plead their traffic violations AND pay super exhorbitant fees, in the hundreds and hundreds of dollars) my case was called in front of the judge (who BTW was constantly smiling and wishing the folks well. Really? Thought I. These hard working people are paying through the nose! Not to worry: the court gave you 30, 60, 90 days to pay or through an annual, monthly installment plan. If you paid by charge card, a 3% fee,yes! another fee was added to your fine!)

When the judge called my case, as always, I was asked how to properly pronounce my last name. It’s Italian and it gets snickers. Judge also noted that my husband was smiling and was a very handsome, good looking man. The cop, however, thanked the judge for calling HIM a ‘good looking man’ and both the police officer and judge had a good laugh.

How do you answer?” the judge asked the senior police officer

I recommend remanding Ms. C to spend 15 days in jail, your honor“. Yes, the cop really said this folks.

You’re giving her one day for each day of the fine?” asked the judge. If I had just paid the fine, like all the other good little boys and girls, my fine would have been $15. Throw in another $15 for ‘missing’ the first trial date, plus the $25 New York State surcharge and my total fine would have been $55. All that, just for going to a free Christmas parade.

I’m just joking, your honor” and with that both the judge and the senior police office starting laughing. “I’m dismissing the case and putting Ms C on six months probation“.

And with that the judge wished me well. Told me not to get any more tickets till October 6, 2019. I had one better. How about I never come back to your friggin’ village ever again? How about I avoid your tourist hick town trap for like forever?

Hubby and I drove home in silence. When we got back inside our home, hubby’s blood pressure was through the roof. This was a very upsetting ordeal for the both of us. My husband has a very serious heart condition and he can’t be subjugated to stressful episodes as what we just went through in the court. Hubby’s blood pressure was 165/91. It should never be above 119/70. He immediately took a double dose of his heart meds while we waited for his blood pressure to come down. Hubs became disoriented but sleepy. He went to bed. I said some prayers, cried and wondered aloud ‘what’s the point of anything?’

Our police force is vicious these days. Doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, yellow or brown. They’ve got it in for all of us. The lesson here is next time you get a ticket, just pay it and shut the fu**k up. We’ll make your life miserable if you don’t. I am on a six month probation for what? I wasn’t even the driver. Hubby was. But I knew if I let him take on the ticket he would have just paid the fine and be done with it. Instead, I took the fall and put my own drivers license at risk (we both equally own the vehicle in question). I’m the financial manager of the family and the only reason why we’ve been successful so far is because I watch our bottom line. I believe in fighting the good fight.

I just didn’t think hubby would get so emotionally upset over the whole thing.

Just another day of what its like, getting older and living in America.

Case closed.

 

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13 comments

  1. I totally agree with your conclusion that sometimes you have to just throw in the towel even if it’s unfair. I have never actually had a legal problem, but have become enraged, once with a car dealership and once with our HOA. I was furious for weeks, but then let it go. I wasn’t going to win.

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    • Hi Anne. Good words for next time. But because I couldn’t read nor understand what the ticket was for, I couldn’t just blindly plead guilty. The fine could have been in the hundreds. Not good for a retiree.
      Perhaps the cops & village do that for a reason, on purpose? They’re not stupid. Just out to get as much money as possible.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Like

    • PS: The village has become a tourist trap, filled with celebrities and millionaires who have moved in there. Unfortunately, based on how the people in the court were dressed (shabbily) not too many millionaires could be found. Hubs and I have agreed to avoid the village like the plague from now on in. Who knows if our car is now marked and on the ‘lookout’ by the other village officers. Sad 😦

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  2. Well, once again a little village has LEO’s who think they are God. Sorry for your ordeal, and glad that your hubby did not have a serious stress related problem. By the way, can you share the name of the village? I doubt I’d ever go, but I sure would not want to make a mistake and go to that trap of a town.

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    • Hi road. I can’t share the name of the village for fear of reprisal. I’ve already been contacted by that hospital I wrote about the other day. Guess they have internet feelers out. Ugh. It’s not against any law to voice your own personal experiences but who wants to deal with big pharmas.
      BTW was does LEO mean? Law enforcement Officer??

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow you got away with a close one this time. The Cop’s handwriting was sloppy and you did your duty to inquire. Not sending notice and then finding you guilty for not showing is unacceptable. We were Cops and Rebecca retired from her department as a SVU detective, he just didn’t want to argue…an average car is approx 19 feet long and if another car could not fit between you and the stop sign I would say you were less than 30 feet. You even brought the proof to court! I’m glad you didn’t get fined but he did you a favor…law enforcement is a thankless job but necessary. There’s a lot of Cop bashing that makes their job even worse.

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    • Tin Can, I am a BIG supporter of law enforcement. I respect them 100%. But Lordy Lord Lord, if you get in to a tangle with them lately, it’s best to do what you are told and shut up. Scary.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  4. One time my friend who is a very careful driver, got a moving violation ticket in the mail for going >20 mph when the 20 mph speed limit sign “was flashing”. There is a camera that takes pictures of license plates on cars going too fast when “the light is flashing”. Here in WA state there are speed limit signs in school zones that say “The speed limit is 20 mph when there are children present OR the light (yellow light on the sign) is flashing.” She didn’t recall driving too fast but paid the fine anyway. Her husband criticized her for speeding.

    Fast forward a year. A man gets the same ticket for the same area. He also does not recall driving too fast in a school zone. He got the ticket during a time when there was no school, in summer. He goes back to look at the school zone; what he sees prompts him to go to court and fight the ticket and he won!

    What he observed was that the school zone had 2 signs blocks away from each other. If you were at one sign you would not be able to see the other sign down the road, it was too far away. The first sign that said “Or if the light is flashing” DID NOT HAVE A LIGHT INSTALLED ON IT! There was no flashing light, the city forgot to put a light on the sign! The sign way down the road did have a flashing light but drivers couldn’t see that sign from where the first sign was located.

    So the man wins his case….BUT then the city does not go back and refund any money to all the other drivers who FOR A WHOLE YEAR were getting unjust tickets and moving violations because of a flashing light that did not exist!

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    • Mary, once the political system collects the money, trust me, they ain’t giving it back. Kudos for the man for taking an interest and standing up for his rights. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

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  5. It seems that paying the $15 up front would have been a reasonable price to pay to save all the time and energy you spent fighting it, along with the stress on your husband. And looking at that photo of your car in relation to the stop sign, that sure seems like less than 30 feet to me. Or you could have been parked on the other side of the tree where you could have easily been able to open your door to exit the car.

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    • Johnny, in retrospect, this is true. But I didn’t know what the ticket was for originally. It was written in police code. Look at the photo. Do you know what the ticket was written for?? I had no idea what I would have been pleading guilty to. Only when I got the 2nd notice did I know what the ticket was for.
      So, hindsight is 20/20.
      The village police are counting on people like you, shrugging their shoulders and just paying and paying and paying and paying. The cop had absolutely no evidence where I was parked. It was just his word. Suppose he said I ran over a kid or something? Or passed a stop light and crashed into a neighbors house? Where’s the evidence? Just his word? I don’t think so.
      There was a big Christmas event in the village that day. The cops were giving out tickets like mad. It’s a money maker to them.
      Let them go make money off of the tourists.
      They didn’t get one extra dime out of me.
      I pay more than enough in New York taxes to justify my action. The village can rest assured I will NEVER be back there. Thus the town has lost my financial support (restaurants, shopping etc). I wouldn’t doubt they put my vehicle in their ‘Look Out For This Car List’. Just waiting to fine and penalize me for something else I didn’t do.
      BTW, the photo was taken long after the Christmas event. I just knew, because of the placement of the tree, that I did not park where the cop said I did. It would have been impossible for me to get out of the car. My husband was driving. Not me. I took the fall for him. He had no reason to get stressed out or anything. It was just a friggin’ parking ticket. But when the cop told the judge he was going to lock me up for 15 days, which he and the judge laughed over because they thought it was funny…my husband wasn’t laughing. I found the judge and the cops behavior bizarre to say the least.
      Just so glad I’m outta there!
      Thanks for your comment. Stay safe.

      Like

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