Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on traffic tickets

Today's blog will again be about traffic tickets. You may be wondering, and I have had to stop and ask myself, exactly why I allow myself to get so worked up about this issue? I seem to engage the attention of the local traffic gendarmes about once every 5 years, and actually get a ticket maybe a little more often than once every ten years. It'd be easy to say "doesn't affect me that much" just like I might say "the DWI laws can be severe, what do I care, I haven't had a problem."

Well, I have been getting worked up about it because things are *changing* and we had all better be aware of it. The Virginia legislature has gotten so bold as to decide to slap the "bad-boys-bad-boys-whatcha-gonna-do" types with draconian fines expressly for the purpose of paying for road maintenance and improvement! All I will say about this is, take notice, and let's all hope this gets slapped down as unconstitutional or repealed because of public outcry. Although I wonder, how much of an outcry would there be if they hadn't been stupid enough to include the possibility that just about driver might find himself slapped hard with "20 miles per hour over the speed limit?" Dear readers who know they have never done or ever will do such offenses are excused [but will suffer from my suspicions about their veracity, I'm sorry to say.] But the blog today will go back to some more original trends "that really bother me" and not focus on this, although I have included some links below.

Here's my experience, not shared by everyone it seems, so consider me the canary in the coal mine. Starting about 20 years ago almost every policeman who pulled me over and who worked in a metropolitan area demanded my driver's license and registration by shouting at me as soon as he/she walked up to the driver's window. Yes, one was a woman. I call this the "drill sergeant" intimidation method. I have to say this mystified me for years; I thought I was just making these officers angry or something. I have wised up after the last incident. This officer made me so angry I took him to the mat, in the only practical manner I had open to me, going to court. It took me 4 trips, once for the original hearing [later I find this is considered kangaroo court by the system,] once for an appeal against the ruling by Head Kangaroo [real court date was set,] once to find out my date was scheduled for Lee-Jackson day [courts closed, evidently to the surprise of the courts,] and lastly for my only real trial. Four trips. Yes, we were going to the mat, and finally my case was dismissed.

The thing that was good about this, though, was that I finally learned some things. Had to research how to beat "Officer Owens" at his own game. I'll pass these things along.

*One of these days you likely are going to get the "Drill Sergeant" yelling at you. This person is not angry, but needs to get your license and registration ASAP. Cops in a metropolitan area are savvy to this, I have found that out in the sticks you don't get this treatment. I don't know that they "run" anything but your license plate, the license and registration are a must for them, though, as a matter of procedure. It becomes viewed as the first step. If they can intimidate, then you likely will cough up both immediately; I certainly always did, needing a cooling-off period myself after that treatment. For Officer Owens, main character in the last and most outrageous of my experiences, this told him I was a fool, too, because the smart thing to do is to fumble around as long as practical looking for your license or something. This gives you a chance to talk to him and schmooze before he writes that ticket. Owens knew he didn't need to talk once I gave this stuff up, certainly he didn't, didn't even tell me what my offense was supposed to be, just slapped me with the ticket. But even with a guy like Owens, if you can talk to him, plead a little case of "I promise," assert your excellent driving record, etc, etc, all very nicely, you might even have a chance with him. What happened next, since I was so dumb, is too ugly to relate in full here [g].

*Do not think, as I did, that you have nothing to lose by expressing your dismay at your treatment. You absolutely want this guy to forget everything and not remember you at all. Ultimately, this is what saved my bacon, even though what I deserved was Owens writing down notes on everything immediately to be sure he remembered all of it.

*When the right moment comes, the cop will be sure to tell you that you can just call the telephone number and pay your fine that way. He earnestly desires this, wanting to make his day in court as short as possible. The smart thing to say is "boy, I'm so busy, that's *definitely* what *I'm* going to do!" Hopefully this will really encourage him to forget you completely, while secretly you plan to go to court. I was stupid and told him I'd definitely see him in court. Dumb!

*Do go to court. If you doubt what this is really going to cost you, check out the below. By all means this means millions of dollars to the insurance companies and THIS IS ONLY GETTING WORSE as time goes on!

Highlights of the below link:

"The insurance industry is very quietly passing new harsher rules so they can raise your insurance rates or cancel drivers with three points in a three year period. Before it was three points in a one-year period and you could start fresh every year." I repeat, do not assume that just because you previously seemed to be able to get a ticket once in a while without it being a big deal, that this is always going to be the case. Virginia is certainly working on that!

"The average raise in insurance cost for one speeding ticket over the course of 3 years is $947.00! NINE HUNDRED & FORTY-SEVEN BUCKS!"

"Last year Geico Insurance Co. gave $20,000,000 ( twenty million dollars ) to police departments for the purpose of buying new laser and radar guns... And they're not the ONLY ones..." Protecting the children again, eh?

"Insurance companies spend 26 million dollars a year checking driving records? You know by now that they're not checking it to give you a good driver's discount. They want to INCREASE your rates..."

BTW, if you spend your money with the link below, I would bet you don't learn much more than what I just advised above.

I'll close now, but I could go on, believe me.

Link for the above quotes.
http://fight-the-speeding-ticket.com/?gclid=CJfok-SEoo0CFSekgAodziUTmA
you can find more like this with no trouble.

Links on Virginia's latest:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/VAtrafficfees/index.html
http://www.wvec.com/news/downloads/trafficfines.pdf

5 comments:

Matt Schmidt said...

I think what I find most interesting is the insurance companies funding the radar/laser detection equipment for police units. The reason I find this interesting is that I think the more jurisdictions look at using passive enforcement like speed or light cameras, the less the insurance companies can find way to raise our rates. If they sweeten the pot for local jurisdictions, they can potentially bring the cost of having an officer enforce the traffic violation in line with having cameras enforce them. As long as there is no difference, or even a benefit for the former, all the while the jurisdiction is raking in their money in fines, the insurance companies only need to make minor investments to help keep their gravy train going. What a racket!

I'm going to buy a detector to protect myself.

Carl W said...

I hadnt thought of a conflict between passive and active enforcement. The passive enforcement that I've been aware of claimed to be "no points" on your license, and if you swore it out, you wouldnt be fined. Constitutional issue of right to be confronted by your accuser [which I guess can't be a machine.]

Insurance companies must hate those things!

Carl

Marsha said...

Well I got socked with an automatic rate increase for my speeding ticket--15%! When they find out about the other point, I will be anxious to see if I get cancelled.

I did read about the fines. Hey, that's because they don't want to raise taxes. Don't kid yourself. They will get the money somehow, if not taxes then penalties, fees, and fines. Wait until you drive north and pay tolls every five miles. Oh joy. I think I'd prefer the taxes but you know I am a "liberal".

Louise said...

Man, Uncle Carl, you sure get stopped for speeding a lot. If that happened to me and I complained, my husband would tell me to stop speeding. But he has always been a bit of a smart ass. :)

What we're irritated about up here is that the APD has purchased motorcycles with our hard-earned tax dollars. Considering the fact that they can only ride them for about 3 months out of the year, this is a real abuse of funding.

Then again, the only taxes Anchoragites have are property taxes, and we don't own property. So I guess it's not our tax dollars after all.

But it's still an abuse of the system.

Carl W said...

Your dad seems to have a story about your day in court as a teenager, no? The way he tells it, his 'mastery' of the Law saved your bacon!