Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The $173 toll for not speeding

After a frustrating day of going back and forth between car repair places while they traded estimates of costs and when they could do repairs on the car after the road debris damage, I was already a bit cranky. I'd been driving extra slow and careful because my muffler was by this point hanging so low that it scraped at almost any provocation. In fact, though I'd headed from my office to Courtesy Toyota via the Interstate out of habit, I decided to go back by Berlin Street because highway speeds are nerve-wracking and people kept passing me on the Interstate.

But out on Berlin Street between the hospital and the water treatment plant, people were just as cranky about me driving "slow" (around the speed limit, actually), and I was passed by two cars in that short stretch of road.

Then I got pulled over.

For speeding.

The car in front of me also pulled over when the lights flashed. They had just passed me shortly before. I could see them figuring it was them, for sure. Nope. They had been speeding -- why would they get a ticket?

I actually got a $173 ticket. The officer alleges I was doing 59 miles an hour according to his radar in a 40 zone. There's simply no way my car could do 59 without me knowing, with the muffler a centimeter off the ground. There's just no way. I might have been a few miles over the posted limit, but no more than that. The car would have been rattling like an airplane and the muffler scraping if I had been.

All I can figure is that the officer's radar hit another car (maybe the one who'd passed me) and then gave me the blame for it. But there's no way I can contest it because I have no proof. All I could say to the judge is explaining about my muffler damage -- and at least that is well documented since I have not one but two estimates done earlier than the ticket, plus the insurance call two days earlier, and a number of witnesses -- but that won't prove that the officer saying his radar says 59 isn't right. The judge will just conclude that I was going fast and scraping and am lying about it. The fact that my car was damaged might even count against me -- the judge doesn't know that it was really road debris, or that it was really unavoidable, so it all comes down to my credibility. And traffic judges aren't going to spend a lot of time worrying about that.

I'm furious because of all the people I know I probably speed the least, yet I am more likely to get a ticket than any of them. And today I was going slower than usual, and was very likely the only person not speeding on that stretch of road. I guess the lion takes down the injured gazelle, but at least the lion doesn't tell the gazelle it's because he was the fastest. So I get hit with $173 for an undeserved ticket the very day I'm trying to figure out where to pull $250 out of thin air to cover the unexpected car repair costs. There ain't no justice.

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