I just got robbed. By the County.

I just got $141 stolen from me. What’s worse is that Wake County made me go to the ATM to get it. Now I know why weapons are prohibited from Courthouses.
I got a speeding ticket in November. I missed the change of speed coming in to a town in eastern Wake County. The cop was nice and only wrote me up for driving too fast for conditions instead of 15 over. My intention was to plead in court today for leniency due to the fact that I haven’t had a moving violation in 10 years. One mistake in 10 years has to be worth something, especially since in the last 4 years I’ve driven over 300,000 miles just on the job. Cruise control is your friend.
In every other place I have ever been, the date on your ticket is the date of your court appearance. You go to court, plead your case, and the judge makes his decision. Not in Wake County. That date is your date for “Disposition Court.” You get a chance to demand your right to trial. Which requires you to take ANOTHER day off work to fight this stupid ticket. Is that fair? The ticket costs $25. The court costs are $141. So in order to try to save myself $166, I have to take 2 days off work, costing me much more than $166. So here I am, standing in front of the “judge” who can’t dismiss or alter my ticket, and I can’t afford to take another day off to fight it.
In many states, there is a sort of “get out of one ticket free” system. In North Carolina, it’s called “Prayer for Judgment Continued.” It means you get no points on your license. I was also under the impression that it meant you didn’t have to pay the ticket unless you got another one within a specified time. Nope. Still cost me $141 in court costs. Cash only, pay the cashier. Don’t forget to pay for parking on the way out. ($2)
How is this fair? I think that it would have been fair for a judge to have said no to my request for leniency. It’s a judgment call and I could understand him refusing. What I can’t understand is the demand that I sacrifice 2 days at work (and work Saturdays to make up the time) in order to fight a traffic ticket. This sounds to me like a system deliberately set up to prevent you from having your day in court. It privileges those with the time to waste in court, or who have enough money to pay a lawyer to waste time in court. Either way, you pay money. And then you pay again when your insurance raises your rates. If I, who actually did what I am accused of, feel this angry because of how I got treated, how does the person who got a raw deal from a cop feel? This feels like justice denied. This feels like highway robbery. And judging by the number of other people in the courthouse today with traffic tickets, highway robbery pays well. I can’t help but think that if there was a state law that said all ticket costs went to the state instead of the court, there wouldn’t be so many people standing in that line this morning.

8 responses to “I just got robbed. By the County.

  1. Plus, you can’t just pay the ticket ahead of time, you have to pay the court costs regardless wether or not you go to court.

  2. Who expected traffic laws to be “fair”? It’s just a tax… give ‘em the money, learn the lesson, and move on.

  3. I feel your pain Sean.

    I got a speeding ticket at the end of last month. Court Costs & fines were $197 and if I don’t get another ticket in that city for 90 days, it won’t go on my record.

    We have a modified point system (I still have a couple of points in N.C. from a 1984 speeding ticket) where if you are convicted of traffic offenses, your cost to renew your driver’s license goes up.

    To make matters worse, 3 days after I get my ticket the state announces an amnesty period for people who lost their licenses or didn’t pay their surcharge from several years back.

    Those scofflaws got a 90% discount on their fines and fees. How does that teach them not to repeat the behavior?

  4. Imagine if it was a crime that required hiring a lawyer — you’re innocent, you would get off…but you’re broke.

    Justice system is broken like the rest of gov’t.

  5. Speaking of stupid taxes disguised as other things, my town has a “False Alarm Reduction Program” that requires home/business owners with a burglar alarm (like me) to pay $10/year to have our burglar alarm “registered”, meaning the town will actually send 5-0 if the monitoring company calls and tells them my alarm goes off. For that $10, I get someone to respond to the alarm and I get up to 3 false alarms a year or something like that. More than 3, and they charge incrementally more for each false alarm.
    Now, I have nothing against paying a $10 burglar alarm tax… and I really appreciate having 5-0 roll when the thing goes off. But don’t call it a “False Alarm Reduction Program” when it does NOTHING to prevent false alarms…I have had ONE false alarm in 10 years (totally my fault, left the front door ajar). If they really wanted to reduce false alarms, they could just charge the people who have them… $50/each or something… that would cut them down!

  6. sorry for the rant, I think I went of the rails a bit there… ;)

    On the upside, all your google ads are now for traffic lawyers!

  7. Traffic crimes (specifically speeding which as a general rule is NOT a dangerous act within reason above the limit) are NOT about public safety, or law-and-order, it is simply about collecting revenue for the state and town. Why would they want to make it easy for you to NOT pay them?

    To expand on Pat’s statement, Massachusetts’ Firearms Permit system is a similar racket. There are towns that will deny permits without cause, or put restrictions that are unreasonable. There was a famous case where a man’s coat blew open accidentally exposing his gun. The only person to witness this was a traffic cop writing a parking ticket. The cop asked for his permit, it was presented, and the man was advised to be more careful. A year later his renewal was denied on grounds of “Bad Judgment”. Happened to be this fella was a collector and had a large number of guns that he now could no longer legally posses. Thankfully for him his brother had a permit and took his collection into protective custody.

    He hired a lawyer, fought the case, and won.

    Cost him lord knows how many days at work, THOUSANDS of dollars, and who knows how many sleepless nights.

    And another huge factor is he’s now the guy in town that sued the chief of police and won. That’s not a target I want drawn on my back….

  8. This sounds to me like a system deliberately set up to prevent you from having your day in court.

    *dingdingdingding*

    All it comes down to is, “The government wants its money.” It is going to get paid whether you simply accept the ticket and pay the fine, or whether you fight for your day in court and pay for the “privilege” of doing so.

    Makes you wonder what your taxes are for, does it not?