Friday, August 19, 2011

How not to deal with a speeding ticket

It’s hard for me to comprehend but there are a few drivers who have spent a whole career on the road and have never gotten a speeding ticket.

Then there are those who flat refuse to slow down. They spend hundreds a month on prepaid legal fees to protect their CDLs from the tickets/points that they know are coming.

I would guess that most of us fall in between these two extremes somewhere. I’m sure I have plenty of company in the “Young and Stupid, and now Older and Wiser” category.

Back in the day getting a speeding ticket was like, pay it, be mad awhile, then forget it. For me, it started not being that simple when my auto insurance tripled for tickets I got in the big truck. To this day I’ve never gotten a ticket in a four-wheeler. But in my youth, I had enough tickets and warning tickets in a semi to paper a two-holer outhouse.

This won’t work anymore. With the states all hooked up via computer, it’s all going to count. In the past, two tickets on your license, no big deal. You could still get a job. In today’s market, I don’t even want one ticket because the hiring requirements of today’s carriers are much higher than they used to be. Bottom line, even a legitimate ticket, I’m going get a lawyer to make it go away. Anything can happen. You could get one you didn’t deserve a week later, and now you’re half a foot away from being out of business.

Getting a ticket you didn’t deserve is the hardest to swallow, I had a couple but, to be honest, I know they had me a few times and pulled over the wrong truck so I guess that would be a push.

I’ll tell you about the one that got the best of me. My wife, Geri, and I had been out awhile and were 10 miles from the house. It was early Sunday morning, and we were ready for some home time. Here comes Smokey from his hiding place, and he wrote me on what I thought was a cheap shot. Probably technically right, but still a cheap shot in my opinion.

Unlike me, I completely lost it and went berserk on this guy, screaming and cussing. I mean I unloaded on him. He would have been within his rights if he bagged, gagged, cuffed, stuffed and hauled me to jail. I didn’t care. 

I sent the ticket to a lawyer and he sent it back with a note that read: “Can’t help you.”

I went to a second lawyer, same result. Finally I went to see a lawyer I went to school with … didn’t like him but I knew him.

I asked, “What’s going on here? It’s just a simple speeding ticket; make it go away.”

His response: “I saw the police report and I won’t touch it.”

So I went to traffic court. I was next to last on the docket, and after I pleaded guilty the judge asked me if I would stay until after the last case was heard. Strictly voluntary and off the record. I think it was me, him and the bailiff in the room. He said he was curious about my attitude and brought out a paper and started reading from it. Then I understood why the cop just sat there smiling while I ranted. There was no sugar-coating what I’d said. The cop had recorded it, and it was all on the police report.

I paid the fine and took the points.

That’s how I learned to keep my trap shut. The rest of my driving career, if I got a ticket, I took my lumps, got a lawyer, and it disappeared.