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.