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:
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:
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:
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.