Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On The Road Again: The Ticket

On a Monday, I was arrested
On a Tuesday, I was locked up in jail
On a Wednesday, my trial was attested
On a Thursday, nobody would go my bail

-- Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter

So I've been a little miserable for the past 24 hours, because I got a massive ticket. But I'm much better now.

Here's the story - the Renton police are heavily patrolling Kennydale neighborhood along Lake Washington Boulevard, which is a common alternate route because 405, as readers of this blog know, is an absolute crapfest. And yesterday morning, I saw a cop in a prowl car pull over a driver going the other direction.

And feeling glad that it wasn't me, I proceeded to California Stop the next stop sign, and the cop on the motor scooter wheeled out behind him and pulled me over. Busted.

(California Stop is also called a rolling stop . Yeah, you do it. You slow at the intersection, look both ways, and the gun it, the sudden speed making it feel like, in comparison, you made a real stop. Well, I did that, but did not happen to see the cop on the motor scooter, which sort of points out the weakness of this tactic).

And the cop pulls me over and is firm but friendly and asks me what I was thinking when I obviously violated the law and could I hand over my license, proof of ownership, and most current proof of insurance. I gave him the info and he went back to his scooter to check me out.

He came back much firmer and a little less friendly. The insurance card was expired. I said "no problem, I probably have the right one here," He stopped me and informed me that he had already written out the citation, which was an OFFICIAL COURT DOCUMENT (he said that a couple times, so it stuck), for me driving without insurance, but pointed out the number and the address on the form for the local traffic court and that I could get it knocked down if I presented proper documentation to THEM.

And through it all, I was in that creepy, kafkaesque limbo along the side of the road. The parking perp walk, where YOU are hauled off to the side, and all the OTHER traffic is moving past you, smirking that its not THEM. And you're stuck watching them, and seeing them do the self-same California Stop you were busted for.

Anyway, the moving violation was waived for the lack of insurance charge, and to prove otherwise I had to go to the court building sometime in the next 15 days to clear things up. So I'm not feeling my best, and when I see that the fine is listed a "550" I'm thinking the officer has bad handwriting, and meant to write
"$55.00", which is a bit much, but makes it worthwhile to go in and get reduced.

So I get the office (fully stopping at all stop signs)and call the number, and a cheerful young woman says, yes, you can get it knocked down if you bring in the right insurance document (which I had but failed to present when asked for) and pay a fee (not a fine) of $25. Oh, and the officer didn't have bad handwriting - the fine for driving without insurance was $550.


Which of course makes it well worth coming in. So I went down immediately, only to discover that "next fifteen days" meant "next fifteen days, but AFTER the paperwork cleared". So with dejection I spent most of the day is a cranky mood with a $550 bill hanging over my head.

And while I would love to spin this into a long story showing the horrible nature of bureaucracy and the poor common man caught in its vicelike grip, here's what really happened: On Tuesday I stopped in and paid the fee and got it cleared up. So the end result is that I spent a bit more time, but ducked a moving violation, and paid a small fee for doing not one but TWO stupid things in quick succession. Which really isn't that bad, justice-wise.

So the moral here?
- Make complete stops.
- Have your insurance Info handy.
- Make sure it is the right stuff. The officer stressed he wanted the most up-to-date info, and was in a "no-take-backs" mood. And I really can't get too hett up about that.

And when I drove up Lake Washington Blvd this morning, the same cop was there on his same scooter with ANOTHER car pulled over. And I drove carefully around them, but the officer didn't wave. But I was glad that it wasn't me.

Of course, I made a complete and full stop at the next stop sign.

More later,