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I Was Speeding, But...

People always talk about fighting traffic tickets in court. But what does it really mean to “win”? It’s not as if you won a trip to Hawaii. It’s not as if the state pays you back for the two different days you took coming to court and the hours you spent or time you took off work. Winning merely means that you don’t have to pay. It’s more like a tie.

When I got a ticket recently, I decided to go to court and fight it. My friend Janna had just gotten out of a ticket (the cop didn’t show up and it was thrown out).

Seven years ago, I got a ticket on Carmel Mountain Road, and fighting it didn’t work. The officer pulled me over and politely asked why I was in a hurry. We made small talk, and I signed the ticket. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed he had given me a ticket for going 60 mph in the 35 mph stretch of the road. I was going 48, tops.

In court, I couldn’t believe what was happening. First, the bailiff read a list of cases in which the officers didn’t show up. Those seven people got up, smiling, as their cases were dismissed. When it came time to hear the others plead their cases, I was in awe. One lady was a tall, pretty blonde in a military uniform. She said she would never do anything to jeopardize her job. “The only reason this cop gave me a ticket is because of the ten-foot California boa in my car.” The judge, looking surprised, said, “A snake?” The officer clarified, “I had a ride-along in my car. We spotted her [the blonde woman] drinking in the parking lot of 7-Eleven, and her and her friends got into a vehicle with open containers, so I pulled them over. She wasn’t drinking, but I told her she was still responsible for the cans in the backseat. She claimed she couldn’t see what people were doing in the backseat. When I noticed the snake back there, I figured, if there’s an animal that large, she is probably well aware and looking back there often.” The woman pleaded, saying that this could hurt her military ranking. For some reason, the judge sided with her.

Another guy was driving a Pepsi truck in Mira Mesa and didn’t yield for a cyclist. The cop said, “An old Filipino man on a bike crashed because of the way this guy came around the turn.” The judge threw that out, because he said the cop should’ve given a ticket for reckless driving, not for making a wide turn.

An angry African-American woman started yelling at the judge, with her hand on her hip. Her body swiveled like an angry lover on Jerry Springer. She said the cop was hiding behind a billboard and that wasn’t fair. She was ticketed for going 85 mph on the 94 freeway. As she yelled, the judge looked through a book. He said: “In that stretch of freeway, and at 5:30 a.m., when you were speeding, there’s not a lot of traffic. I don’t think it’s unsafe for you to go that speed, so I will let you off.” The lady continued to yell, claiming the officer followed her for a long time before pulling her over. The judge said, “Ma’am, I don’t think you understand. You won.” She seemed confused. I think all of us were. This, I thought, might be the nicest judge on the planet.

Only two guys didn’t get out of their tickets. One was speeding on the 56, weaving in and out of traffic. He said, “Your Honor, I never speed. Ever. I want you to call my wife. She will tell you.” The judge angrily said, “Are you crazy? I’m not going to call your wife. You could’ve brought her here or brought a written deposition from her.” The guy’s story got weirder. He said he was rushing to get his son to soccer practice. The judge said, “So, it sounds like you were speeding.” The guy said, “No. I went the speed limit, but I was in a hurry. I would not jeopardize the life of my son by speeding.” The judge rolled his eyes, sighed, and said, “What is it you want?” The guy responded, “To not pay this ticket. I wasn’t speeding.” The judge said, “If I had a nickel for every time I heard that in my court... I believe you were speeding. Would you like to take traffic school, so this doesn’t go on your record?” The guy (who never speeds) said, “I can’t, because I took traffic school a few months back for another speeding ticket.” The judge said, “I will let you take traffic school.” The guy threw his fist in the air and said, “All right! Cool! That’s what I wanted, because…well, I really was speeding.”

I was the last case. The officer in my case introduced himself by saying how long he’d been on the force. The previous officer had had “2 years on the force”; another had “1 year as a highway patrolman, and now 3 years as a police officer.” My officer said he had “19 years on the force.” He listed his police accomplishments, one of which was that he was a sharpshooter, which made him sound like the Rambo of cops. Finally he said that he’d spent the last 8 years as a regular cop (which was more years than all the other officers). Things got worse when he told his version of the story.

“I first saw the defendant driving by me, at a high rate of speed, in his silver Porsche.” He emphasized the word “Porsche.” He continued, “I almost couldn’t catch up with the Porsche. But when I finally did pull the Porsche over…” I was dying to interrupt by saying, “What kind of car was it again?”

The cop then said, “The defendant said to me, ‘How do you know what speed I was going? Did you use a radar gun?’ I informed him that I don’t use a radar gun but that I had paced behind him to gauge the speed. He then snatched the ticket from my hand and said, ‘I’ll see your ass in court!’ ” The judge looked at me. I wanted to scream, “That is a lie! That conversation never happened. I would never speak to anyone that way. Especially someone with a badge, and someone that I’m hoping will let me out of a ticket.”

The judge asked me what happened. The first words out of my mouth were a mistake.

“I was speeding, but…” The judge interrupted to say, “Then why are you here wasting my time?” I said, “I was not going 60. I was going 45. I live on that street, and near Costco the speed limit is 45. It then goes down to 35, and right where I live, it’s 25. There’s a school there, and I’m careful that when children are present, I drive slower.” The judge asked if I wanted traffic school. I asked, “Does that get me out of paying the ticket?” I knew it didn’t. It used to. He said, “No. You’ll still pay the ticket, and traffic school can be expensive. But it will keep this off your record.” I said, “I have a perfect driving record. I never get tickets.” He responded, “Yeah, I can’t believe what I’m seeing. You have the cleanest driving record I’ve ever seen.”

The judge made me pay the full amount for going 25 miles over the posted limit. I was going to confront the cop outside and ask why he lied in court, but I realized that it would do no good, and it could get ugly. And I’m sure he just didn’t like watching everyone winning their cases, when they’d clearly broken the law.

So, back to my current ticket. I thought I’d try my luck again and fight it. If a cop could lie in court last time, maybe I would this time. A friend of mine is a sheriff in Vista. He told me years ago that cops love going to court. They get paid overtime, and it’s an easy day of work.

Another cop told me a certain number can’t make it to court because of other business they have to attend to or because they’re involved in a bigger court case. He guessed the number of officers not showing up as between 25–35 percent. (And I was surprised when the court reporter told the bailiff, “Wow, we have 100 percent attendance with the officers today.” But I’m jumping ahead.)

I went in for the phase where you plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” Two cell phones went off, and the bailiff went over to tell the owners to turn them off. There was also a sign that specified no use of cell phones, as well as another sign that warned against threats of verbal or physical abuse; such things would be taken seriously.

The bailiff had many hand gestures that got his points across quickly, without being loud in the courtroom. A few times he had to put his hand on his head, to signal to guys to take off their ball caps. One guy was wearing flip-flops and a bathing suit, with hair that looked as if it hadn’t been combed in days. Another guy kept his sunglasses on.

The judge was James L. Duchnick, who was very friendly and funny. One guy had gotten two tickets while driving without a license, and the judge lectured him. He talked about possible jail time but was friendly. When an old lady didn’t have her driver’s license with her, he asked her kindly to go to her car and get it. When it was clear that a person’s first language was Spanish, he would say a few words in Spanish.

I was surprised at one exchange with an older Latino. The guy claimed he couldn’t afford to pay his ticket and wanted a payment plan. The judge told him he’d have an extra 60 days to pay. The guy insisted on paying a small portion each month until it got paid. The judge said, “Earth to Mr. DeCarlo, I gave you extra time. We aren’t going to set up a payment plan for you. Why don’t you take a small amount, set it aside each week, and when you have the full amount, you can come in here, bring a big Mexican hat, dance around it, we’ll have a burrito, and the matter will be taken care of.” Everyone laughed, including Mr. DeCarlo.

One fairly young woman said she has had two heart attacks and couldn’t pay the ticket. The judge told her to stop having heart attacks. He then smiled and said, “Are we going to have you around long enough to pay this ticket?” I couldn’t believe he would say things like this, without fear of someday ending up in court himself.

An interpreter went up to an older Latina sitting in front of me and was explaining the process to her in Spanish.

I glanced over and saw my friend Sal, who happened to be in for his third ticket in a year.

It was finally my turn. When I was asked whether I was guilty or not guilty, I wanted to say something funny like “Guilty, by reason of sanity.” This judge would surely laugh, but I got nervous. I remembered as a teenager getting a “fix-it” ticket on my Mustang and sending in the ticket after the headlight was fixed. The court never got it. A notice came that told me I had a court date, which I ignored, followed later by a notice saying there was a warrant out for my arrest. The judge in Vista, for that case, said, “You know how many times a person has told me their payments got lost in the mail?”

I was fined $250.

Judge Duchnick asked whether I wanted a quick trial or one in 60 days. I told him I had no preference, and he said I had to pick. I went with 60 days. I thanked him. He seemed surprised and thanked me in return.

In preparation for my court appearance, I went back to take pictures at the scene. My ticket was for turning right on a red light. There was a sign that said I couldn’t. I took pictures of all the surrounding streets in Mira Mesa. Most of them show the hours you can’t turn right. On the streets that don’t let you turn right — but don’t specify certain hours — all had two or three signs to that effect; some even showed an arrow with a strike-through in red. But this intersection had only the one sign.

I taped the pictures to a big piece of cardboard and clearly wrote those points above them. One friend told me if I go in a week before my appearance and request a different court date, that increased the odds of my officer not showing up, but I figured that would be more trouble than just paying the damn ticket.

I got my hair cut on the big day and would swear I heard the theme of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly playing from that buzzer that shaved off my sideburns. I wondered if the officer was preparing for the big showdown at high noon (well, 2:30 p.m.).

My information stated I needed to be there 15 minutes early. I got there an hour early. I figured I could get a feel for the courtroom, almost as if it were a basketball court. I could read the newspaper and chill out. And as I drove there, I heard on the radio something about Heather Mills possibly getting $200 million from Paul McCartney. This inspired me. If she can get $200 million, I can save $200 dollars.

In court, a bailiff asked, “Who is here for the camera ticket, for the light in Poway?” Five people raised their hands, and he took them into a room to show them a video. He came back out, and ten minutes after our scheduled time, he started explaining the rules. He said when the judge says our name for roll call, to loudly answer. He said, “So when he says ‘John Smith’…” A guy then yelled, “Here.” The bailiff said, “What? What are you talking about?” The guy said, “I’m John Smith.” The bailiff, looking confused, said, “Oh. I should’ve used the name John Doe as an example.”

The crowd was more dressed up this time. One guy was putting a tie on as he walked in. The women wore fancy dresses. One guy did have on a Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans. I had opted for a sports coat and slacks. I figured a suit and tie would look as if I was trying too hard. The bailiff asked one guy near the front, “How often am I going to keep seeing you here?”

The officers were then brought in. I wondered why they hadn’t been brought in earlier. Was it so we wouldn’t give them the stink eye? It gave us a false sense of security, the idea that maybe our officer wouldn’t show up.

One officer had his cell phone go off, and he took the call. The bailiff reminded us all that phones needed to be turned off. Defendants 1, police 0.

It was odd to hear the cops laughing and talking up a storm in what was a quiet courtroom. It seemed cocky, but then I realized that it probably just appeared that way to us. Those sitting around me glanced over, looking for their officers.

The judge was 15 minutes late. He gave us all our oath at once, to save time. He then had some of us move to a bungalow for our cases. I had flashbacks of junior high.

It was weird to see the flags and a complete court set up in such a small setting. There had been a handful of people that had pictures they were going to show. One guy had a video. The bailiff pointed to my cardboard and said, “You have to show the officer whatever it is you are showing to the judge.” I said, “When?” He replied, “Now.”

Damn. The cop would now see my ace in the hole. I walked over, saw my officer, and said sarcastically, “Nice to see you again.” He sneered and took the cardboard. He was polite when he handed it back to me a few minutes later.

A female judge came in to the bungalow, and we were asked to stand. Things got started quickly. The guy before me was a teenager who wanted traffic school, but because he had gotten a ticket a year earlier, he didn’t qualify. The judge asked the officer if this kid was polite during the stop, and the officer said yes. He was granted traffic school.

I was next. The officer put a chart on the chalkboard and explained that he had been dressed in his police uniform “like I am now.” I wondered why that was necessary. Are there people coming in here claiming they didn’t know that the person with the black-and-white car and flashing lights was a police officer?

When it was my turn, I explained how there was only one sign. I lied, saying that I did not see the sign and that that is a poor excuse for a motorist. I thought admitting that would score me brownie points.

I said I felt it necessary that the street have a bigger sign, or another one added, the way all the surrounding streets had.

The judge was writing things down. She asked the officer if there was only one sign. He said yes. She asked him if there was a struck-through arrow. He said no. I was liking this. She was handed my cardboard, and she mentioned that the sign did look small. She handed it to the officer, to ask if it was the area I claimed it was. He said it was. I told her how the officer told me that pulling out when the light is red impedes traffic. But I explained that all the lights were red, with cars waiting, so nobody had to yield for me.

She smiled occasionally and nodded in agreement at the things I said, while glancing down at my photos. She told me she would reduce the $180 fine down to $50. She asked if I would like traffic school. Aware of my ticket from a few years back, I needed to keep points from accumulating on my driving record. I took traffic school. She told me there would be a $28 fee to transfer some records, and then I’d have to pay the driving school. I asked the price, and she said it would be cheaper because my offense was a “level 2.” She guessed around $40 (for my previous ticket, I was told $200). And for some reason, I started telling her about that previous ticket, where I went through a red light because a guy in a bicycle next to me did, and I wasn’t paying attention. Why she didn’t tell me to shut up, I don’t know. But she just smiled and said they don’t have different laws that take into account why you ran a red light.

The bailiff handed me a list of driving schools and said, “If you take the one that’s online, I would suggest you do it soon. Sometimes it takes them three weeks to send out the certificate.”

I couldn’t believe they let you go to the school online. He said, “Yeah. They also have one that’s a video you can watch from home.”

I glanced at the list and saw “California Jammin’,” “Comedy Traffic School,” “Pizza 4U,” “Joy of Motorcycling.” A few were given in Spanish, and there was “Gay Community Traffic School.” I wondered if there was a traffic school for singles. Would people try to get tickets to meet other singles? Or if you went to the one that served pizza, would anyone talk about how bad the pizza delivery drivers are? Do we, as a society, have such a short attention span that we need all these bells and whistles for traffic school?

Life was simpler when those bells and whistles, and an old baseball card, were attached to our bicycles.

— Josh Board

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Religion in Christmas movies, Yellow Deli a cult?, San DIego Sikhs, Christmas without Jesus, Hare Krishnas

San Diego spiritual

People always talk about fighting traffic tickets in court. But what does it really mean to “win”? It’s not as if you won a trip to Hawaii. It’s not as if the state pays you back for the two different days you took coming to court and the hours you spent or time you took off work. Winning merely means that you don’t have to pay. It’s more like a tie.

When I got a ticket recently, I decided to go to court and fight it. My friend Janna had just gotten out of a ticket (the cop didn’t show up and it was thrown out).

Seven years ago, I got a ticket on Carmel Mountain Road, and fighting it didn’t work. The officer pulled me over and politely asked why I was in a hurry. We made small talk, and I signed the ticket. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed he had given me a ticket for going 60 mph in the 35 mph stretch of the road. I was going 48, tops.

In court, I couldn’t believe what was happening. First, the bailiff read a list of cases in which the officers didn’t show up. Those seven people got up, smiling, as their cases were dismissed. When it came time to hear the others plead their cases, I was in awe. One lady was a tall, pretty blonde in a military uniform. She said she would never do anything to jeopardize her job. “The only reason this cop gave me a ticket is because of the ten-foot California boa in my car.” The judge, looking surprised, said, “A snake?” The officer clarified, “I had a ride-along in my car. We spotted her [the blonde woman] drinking in the parking lot of 7-Eleven, and her and her friends got into a vehicle with open containers, so I pulled them over. She wasn’t drinking, but I told her she was still responsible for the cans in the backseat. She claimed she couldn’t see what people were doing in the backseat. When I noticed the snake back there, I figured, if there’s an animal that large, she is probably well aware and looking back there often.” The woman pleaded, saying that this could hurt her military ranking. For some reason, the judge sided with her.

Another guy was driving a Pepsi truck in Mira Mesa and didn’t yield for a cyclist. The cop said, “An old Filipino man on a bike crashed because of the way this guy came around the turn.” The judge threw that out, because he said the cop should’ve given a ticket for reckless driving, not for making a wide turn.

An angry African-American woman started yelling at the judge, with her hand on her hip. Her body swiveled like an angry lover on Jerry Springer. She said the cop was hiding behind a billboard and that wasn’t fair. She was ticketed for going 85 mph on the 94 freeway. As she yelled, the judge looked through a book. He said: “In that stretch of freeway, and at 5:30 a.m., when you were speeding, there’s not a lot of traffic. I don’t think it’s unsafe for you to go that speed, so I will let you off.” The lady continued to yell, claiming the officer followed her for a long time before pulling her over. The judge said, “Ma’am, I don’t think you understand. You won.” She seemed confused. I think all of us were. This, I thought, might be the nicest judge on the planet.

Only two guys didn’t get out of their tickets. One was speeding on the 56, weaving in and out of traffic. He said, “Your Honor, I never speed. Ever. I want you to call my wife. She will tell you.” The judge angrily said, “Are you crazy? I’m not going to call your wife. You could’ve brought her here or brought a written deposition from her.” The guy’s story got weirder. He said he was rushing to get his son to soccer practice. The judge said, “So, it sounds like you were speeding.” The guy said, “No. I went the speed limit, but I was in a hurry. I would not jeopardize the life of my son by speeding.” The judge rolled his eyes, sighed, and said, “What is it you want?” The guy responded, “To not pay this ticket. I wasn’t speeding.” The judge said, “If I had a nickel for every time I heard that in my court... I believe you were speeding. Would you like to take traffic school, so this doesn’t go on your record?” The guy (who never speeds) said, “I can’t, because I took traffic school a few months back for another speeding ticket.” The judge said, “I will let you take traffic school.” The guy threw his fist in the air and said, “All right! Cool! That’s what I wanted, because…well, I really was speeding.”

I was the last case. The officer in my case introduced himself by saying how long he’d been on the force. The previous officer had had “2 years on the force”; another had “1 year as a highway patrolman, and now 3 years as a police officer.” My officer said he had “19 years on the force.” He listed his police accomplishments, one of which was that he was a sharpshooter, which made him sound like the Rambo of cops. Finally he said that he’d spent the last 8 years as a regular cop (which was more years than all the other officers). Things got worse when he told his version of the story.

“I first saw the defendant driving by me, at a high rate of speed, in his silver Porsche.” He emphasized the word “Porsche.” He continued, “I almost couldn’t catch up with the Porsche. But when I finally did pull the Porsche over…” I was dying to interrupt by saying, “What kind of car was it again?”

The cop then said, “The defendant said to me, ‘How do you know what speed I was going? Did you use a radar gun?’ I informed him that I don’t use a radar gun but that I had paced behind him to gauge the speed. He then snatched the ticket from my hand and said, ‘I’ll see your ass in court!’ ” The judge looked at me. I wanted to scream, “That is a lie! That conversation never happened. I would never speak to anyone that way. Especially someone with a badge, and someone that I’m hoping will let me out of a ticket.”

The judge asked me what happened. The first words out of my mouth were a mistake.

“I was speeding, but…” The judge interrupted to say, “Then why are you here wasting my time?” I said, “I was not going 60. I was going 45. I live on that street, and near Costco the speed limit is 45. It then goes down to 35, and right where I live, it’s 25. There’s a school there, and I’m careful that when children are present, I drive slower.” The judge asked if I wanted traffic school. I asked, “Does that get me out of paying the ticket?” I knew it didn’t. It used to. He said, “No. You’ll still pay the ticket, and traffic school can be expensive. But it will keep this off your record.” I said, “I have a perfect driving record. I never get tickets.” He responded, “Yeah, I can’t believe what I’m seeing. You have the cleanest driving record I’ve ever seen.”

The judge made me pay the full amount for going 25 miles over the posted limit. I was going to confront the cop outside and ask why he lied in court, but I realized that it would do no good, and it could get ugly. And I’m sure he just didn’t like watching everyone winning their cases, when they’d clearly broken the law.

So, back to my current ticket. I thought I’d try my luck again and fight it. If a cop could lie in court last time, maybe I would this time. A friend of mine is a sheriff in Vista. He told me years ago that cops love going to court. They get paid overtime, and it’s an easy day of work.

Another cop told me a certain number can’t make it to court because of other business they have to attend to or because they’re involved in a bigger court case. He guessed the number of officers not showing up as between 25–35 percent. (And I was surprised when the court reporter told the bailiff, “Wow, we have 100 percent attendance with the officers today.” But I’m jumping ahead.)

I went in for the phase where you plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” Two cell phones went off, and the bailiff went over to tell the owners to turn them off. There was also a sign that specified no use of cell phones, as well as another sign that warned against threats of verbal or physical abuse; such things would be taken seriously.

The bailiff had many hand gestures that got his points across quickly, without being loud in the courtroom. A few times he had to put his hand on his head, to signal to guys to take off their ball caps. One guy was wearing flip-flops and a bathing suit, with hair that looked as if it hadn’t been combed in days. Another guy kept his sunglasses on.

The judge was James L. Duchnick, who was very friendly and funny. One guy had gotten two tickets while driving without a license, and the judge lectured him. He talked about possible jail time but was friendly. When an old lady didn’t have her driver’s license with her, he asked her kindly to go to her car and get it. When it was clear that a person’s first language was Spanish, he would say a few words in Spanish.

I was surprised at one exchange with an older Latino. The guy claimed he couldn’t afford to pay his ticket and wanted a payment plan. The judge told him he’d have an extra 60 days to pay. The guy insisted on paying a small portion each month until it got paid. The judge said, “Earth to Mr. DeCarlo, I gave you extra time. We aren’t going to set up a payment plan for you. Why don’t you take a small amount, set it aside each week, and when you have the full amount, you can come in here, bring a big Mexican hat, dance around it, we’ll have a burrito, and the matter will be taken care of.” Everyone laughed, including Mr. DeCarlo.

One fairly young woman said she has had two heart attacks and couldn’t pay the ticket. The judge told her to stop having heart attacks. He then smiled and said, “Are we going to have you around long enough to pay this ticket?” I couldn’t believe he would say things like this, without fear of someday ending up in court himself.

An interpreter went up to an older Latina sitting in front of me and was explaining the process to her in Spanish.

I glanced over and saw my friend Sal, who happened to be in for his third ticket in a year.

It was finally my turn. When I was asked whether I was guilty or not guilty, I wanted to say something funny like “Guilty, by reason of sanity.” This judge would surely laugh, but I got nervous. I remembered as a teenager getting a “fix-it” ticket on my Mustang and sending in the ticket after the headlight was fixed. The court never got it. A notice came that told me I had a court date, which I ignored, followed later by a notice saying there was a warrant out for my arrest. The judge in Vista, for that case, said, “You know how many times a person has told me their payments got lost in the mail?”

I was fined $250.

Judge Duchnick asked whether I wanted a quick trial or one in 60 days. I told him I had no preference, and he said I had to pick. I went with 60 days. I thanked him. He seemed surprised and thanked me in return.

In preparation for my court appearance, I went back to take pictures at the scene. My ticket was for turning right on a red light. There was a sign that said I couldn’t. I took pictures of all the surrounding streets in Mira Mesa. Most of them show the hours you can’t turn right. On the streets that don’t let you turn right — but don’t specify certain hours — all had two or three signs to that effect; some even showed an arrow with a strike-through in red. But this intersection had only the one sign.

I taped the pictures to a big piece of cardboard and clearly wrote those points above them. One friend told me if I go in a week before my appearance and request a different court date, that increased the odds of my officer not showing up, but I figured that would be more trouble than just paying the damn ticket.

I got my hair cut on the big day and would swear I heard the theme of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly playing from that buzzer that shaved off my sideburns. I wondered if the officer was preparing for the big showdown at high noon (well, 2:30 p.m.).

My information stated I needed to be there 15 minutes early. I got there an hour early. I figured I could get a feel for the courtroom, almost as if it were a basketball court. I could read the newspaper and chill out. And as I drove there, I heard on the radio something about Heather Mills possibly getting $200 million from Paul McCartney. This inspired me. If she can get $200 million, I can save $200 dollars.

In court, a bailiff asked, “Who is here for the camera ticket, for the light in Poway?” Five people raised their hands, and he took them into a room to show them a video. He came back out, and ten minutes after our scheduled time, he started explaining the rules. He said when the judge says our name for roll call, to loudly answer. He said, “So when he says ‘John Smith’…” A guy then yelled, “Here.” The bailiff said, “What? What are you talking about?” The guy said, “I’m John Smith.” The bailiff, looking confused, said, “Oh. I should’ve used the name John Doe as an example.”

The crowd was more dressed up this time. One guy was putting a tie on as he walked in. The women wore fancy dresses. One guy did have on a Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans. I had opted for a sports coat and slacks. I figured a suit and tie would look as if I was trying too hard. The bailiff asked one guy near the front, “How often am I going to keep seeing you here?”

The officers were then brought in. I wondered why they hadn’t been brought in earlier. Was it so we wouldn’t give them the stink eye? It gave us a false sense of security, the idea that maybe our officer wouldn’t show up.

One officer had his cell phone go off, and he took the call. The bailiff reminded us all that phones needed to be turned off. Defendants 1, police 0.

It was odd to hear the cops laughing and talking up a storm in what was a quiet courtroom. It seemed cocky, but then I realized that it probably just appeared that way to us. Those sitting around me glanced over, looking for their officers.

The judge was 15 minutes late. He gave us all our oath at once, to save time. He then had some of us move to a bungalow for our cases. I had flashbacks of junior high.

It was weird to see the flags and a complete court set up in such a small setting. There had been a handful of people that had pictures they were going to show. One guy had a video. The bailiff pointed to my cardboard and said, “You have to show the officer whatever it is you are showing to the judge.” I said, “When?” He replied, “Now.”

Damn. The cop would now see my ace in the hole. I walked over, saw my officer, and said sarcastically, “Nice to see you again.” He sneered and took the cardboard. He was polite when he handed it back to me a few minutes later.

A female judge came in to the bungalow, and we were asked to stand. Things got started quickly. The guy before me was a teenager who wanted traffic school, but because he had gotten a ticket a year earlier, he didn’t qualify. The judge asked the officer if this kid was polite during the stop, and the officer said yes. He was granted traffic school.

I was next. The officer put a chart on the chalkboard and explained that he had been dressed in his police uniform “like I am now.” I wondered why that was necessary. Are there people coming in here claiming they didn’t know that the person with the black-and-white car and flashing lights was a police officer?

When it was my turn, I explained how there was only one sign. I lied, saying that I did not see the sign and that that is a poor excuse for a motorist. I thought admitting that would score me brownie points.

I said I felt it necessary that the street have a bigger sign, or another one added, the way all the surrounding streets had.

The judge was writing things down. She asked the officer if there was only one sign. He said yes. She asked him if there was a struck-through arrow. He said no. I was liking this. She was handed my cardboard, and she mentioned that the sign did look small. She handed it to the officer, to ask if it was the area I claimed it was. He said it was. I told her how the officer told me that pulling out when the light is red impedes traffic. But I explained that all the lights were red, with cars waiting, so nobody had to yield for me.

She smiled occasionally and nodded in agreement at the things I said, while glancing down at my photos. She told me she would reduce the $180 fine down to $50. She asked if I would like traffic school. Aware of my ticket from a few years back, I needed to keep points from accumulating on my driving record. I took traffic school. She told me there would be a $28 fee to transfer some records, and then I’d have to pay the driving school. I asked the price, and she said it would be cheaper because my offense was a “level 2.” She guessed around $40 (for my previous ticket, I was told $200). And for some reason, I started telling her about that previous ticket, where I went through a red light because a guy in a bicycle next to me did, and I wasn’t paying attention. Why she didn’t tell me to shut up, I don’t know. But she just smiled and said they don’t have different laws that take into account why you ran a red light.

The bailiff handed me a list of driving schools and said, “If you take the one that’s online, I would suggest you do it soon. Sometimes it takes them three weeks to send out the certificate.”

I couldn’t believe they let you go to the school online. He said, “Yeah. They also have one that’s a video you can watch from home.”

I glanced at the list and saw “California Jammin’,” “Comedy Traffic School,” “Pizza 4U,” “Joy of Motorcycling.” A few were given in Spanish, and there was “Gay Community Traffic School.” I wondered if there was a traffic school for singles. Would people try to get tickets to meet other singles? Or if you went to the one that served pizza, would anyone talk about how bad the pizza delivery drivers are? Do we, as a society, have such a short attention span that we need all these bells and whistles for traffic school?

Life was simpler when those bells and whistles, and an old baseball card, were attached to our bicycles.

— Josh Board

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Comments
21

Wow. I should get multiple tickets for all my typos. My fault.

May 22, 2008

Interesting. I've been pulled over twice, once when I was under the age of 16 and "accidentally" driving my mothers vehicle and the other when driving on a long stretch of highway of nothingness, similar to the 15 going out to Vegas. On the stretch of nothing, I was speeding but didn't realize it. When I saw the red and blue lights start flashing behind me I looked down and realized it. I was going over 90, in a 65 zone. I was calm, didn't try to explain or add to anything more so then what the officer asked me. I said "sir" at the start of end of each sentence I think. I was ready for a ticket (it was my fault) but instead he ended up giving me a warning closing out the conversation with telling me I to slow down. When pulled over at 14.....well, that was at 2 am. I was driving without my lights on. Even though I was completely panicking in my head I was able to remain calm in front of the officer. I told him I was at a party and left my wallet there. I was only going a few exits on the highway and told him I'd pick up my wallet tomorrow. He asked my name and as I was responding I realized he the same officer to just appear on my high schools weekly TV program the week before talking about prom night and kids not drinking and driving. Right after I told him my name I said "hey, you were on my school TV show last week, weren't you?". He looked up, smiled and said "yeah". I said "oh, that was cool. I totally saw you." Then boom, everything worked out the best it could. He told me to turn on my lights, drive carefully, pick up my wallet tomorrow and have a safe night. It was great. Eh, all and all, I was the one in the wrong both times. I just lucked out I guess. I've always been told to fight a ticket if I get one in hopes the officer doesn't show up in court. I've learned not to take peoples recommendations on things like this though, things like that always seem like fairytales kind of like how everyone seems to say they get airline tickets from here to New York for 200$ round trip. I should get a ticket for how long this is.

May 22, 2008

You should get that user name tattooed on your forehead.

May 22, 2008

Towelhead...if you're a woman, I'm going to be so mad. For some reason, women seem to get out of traffic tickets. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they flirt. I'm convinced a woman could curse a cop out, and still get off with just a "warning."

A friend of mine did the online traffic school. He said that he assumed it would be a breeze. But, you have to be at your computer every 15 minutes or so, because they have a way of checking up on you.

May 23, 2008

I also have had to fight or contest a traffic ticket. Of course the court expects to be paid upfront to even make an appointment to see the judge. In my case the bail amount was about $380, which at the time was a lot for me to pay. I was going to fight the ticket for two reasons, I needed the money and I could not afford another point on my driving record (already had one point).

I was very nervous, it is always a bit intimidating to be in front of a judge, at least for me. When the judge called my name, my officer was not present and the judge dismissed my case. This means the point is not recorded and the money/fine is returned back to you. Because this is the government sending back the money it took nearly 8 weeks.

I am a traffic school instructor so you would think that I learned my lesson, and that I should know better, and you are right, well at least right about the part that I should know better. Yes I could have taken traffic school had the judge allowed me to, but I was glad that I didnt have to. I did look around though and I could have been able to attend www.web-trafficschool.com but because I have a license at my work the DMV would not have allowed me to complete my certificate here.

Safe driving should be a paramount concern, especially for me with 2 small children. I have had to attend several traffic schools in the 20 plus years of driving. That allowed me to have a perfect driving record for a very long time. Up until a few years ago.

May 23, 2008

What is irritating is the total unpredicdability of our "justice system" Get a nice judge or have your cop not show, you get off. Get the cop who will lie to make his case, or the judge who just had a fight with his wife, you're screwed. When do we get the "Star Trek" system where we just strap something to your head and can tell if you're telling the truth?

May 24, 2008

Maybe it's best for us all to just submit quietly, agree that any storm trooper has the GOD given right to taser the hell out of anybody they please for ANY reason, and shoot women and children even when they're not wearing their ominous black uniforms of death. Of course cops NEVER lie.

In fact, let's enact the death penalty for even looking the wrong way at an officer of the law. (Or does that already exist?)

Yep, police can ignore murders, rapes, robberies because they have to go after those DRUGS that are destroying our society just like they destroyed Cindy McCain, who was put in jail for the rest of her life, just like all the other druggies who stole and lied to get their fix, right?

Face it, it's simply UN-AMERICAN to ever question anything a cop says, ever. This country was founded on unquestioning obediance and submission to authority. So next time you see a badge, I suggest you just shut up and spread-em.

May 25, 2008

What often happens with cops and lawsuits, is hardcore extremes. For example, the PERFECT thing I heard, was that cop in Oceanside that shot up that ladies car, with her 4-year-old son in it.

The lawyer representing the son, is suing for $150,000. That, to me, seems like THE PERFECT amount. It isn't $20 million. It's a nice, decent sum, for a kid taken two bullets, that were unnecessary.

Now, step two. That cop needs to be fired. Simple as that. Even if the woman was drunk, on drugs, and not supposed to be driving (which I believe were the reports that have come out). That doesn't give someone the right to go roadrage on them.

The cop should be fired. She should have her child taken away from her (for obviously endangering and being a bad parent).

But, I guarantee, it won't go down like that. The police will want to defend their guy. Not because they think he was right, or they feel they need to do that. But if they don't, they know when another lawsuit is filed, it will hurt their case. Because, them firing him, "admits guilt".

May 26, 2008

I just want the cops tested for steroids.

It's well known that some large percentage of our police use steroids and HGH to bulk up. They claim that they need this edge to protect themselves in confrontations with criminals who are doing the same.

The problem is, we don't want 'roid-ragers running the streets. When you use steroids, your judgement is affected, and you become quick to anger, slow to understand, and likely to beat first and ask questions (or cover up the questions) later.

It is entirely reasonable that if we're going to test students for smoking pot, we should be testing the police for steroids. It's a matter of public safety.

Far too often, police escalate the situation because it gives them the chance to play billy bad-ass and beat someone down. Some of them enjoy it. This kind of power tripping is what leads to women and children getting shot...and cops covering up the facts to "provide professional courtesy" to their fellow badge wearers.

There's no question that if White was justified in this shooting in Oceanside, the DA and cops would be releasing information left and right.

Since there is an embargo on the facts of this case, it's becoming a near certainty that Officer White over-reacted and shot a woman and child because he lost his temper while off duty.

I'm trying my best not to pre-judge this case, but the pattern is so suspicious that it's hard to give the police any more benefit of the doubt.

We KNOW cops lie. They're trained in the academy, unfortunately, on how to present selective evidence and frame people. Any cop can tell you that no matter who you are or what you're doing, they can ALWAYS find a reason to arrest you.

I'm all for law enforcement protecting and serving the citizens, but lately it's turned away from "protect and serve" into "dominate and command". This is wrong, and we have to stand up against abuses under color of authority, or knuckle under to a police state where everyone is guilty until proven guilty.

Best,

Fred Williams Member of the San Diego Crime Commission, 1995-1997

May 26, 2008

Yes, the online traffic schools do sometimes have a way of checking on you to have you advance to the next level/page. In the early days of online traffic schools, you could finish your internet traffic school in about 1 hours.

The DMV got wind of this and shut that down. Now they each page has a minimum time limit, and if you are a fast read and quick study, you can now finish the complete online traffic school program in about 4 hours. This is still better than the classroom version, that requires 8 hours.

Yes this program may feel like its checking up on you. But look at how much more convenient an online defensive driving program is. Hopefully, you dont have to take a traffic school, but if you do, www.web-trafficschool.com

I have had to take traffic school at least five times. By far the easist way to deal with it was the online traffic class. I was happy to deal with the inconvenience of clicking on the screen every 10-15 minutes.

May 27, 2008

Cell Phone Law is just around the corner people.

June 25, 2008

Yeah, thanks for the reminder, VJ. I still use my cell phone. Let them throw me in jail. If they pull me over for it, I'm going to continue talking while the cop comes up to my car. He can give me the ticket, but it ain't gonna slow me down in my conversation. I'll hand him my license, registration, and I'll continue the conversation with the person on the other end of the phone.

Until they start pulling over the idiots with cigarettes out the window, pickup trucks that have trash flying out of their cabs, and all the other stuff...cell phones should be the least of their worries.

Now, on to 'roid rage. Williams...I just saw the documentary BIGGER FASTER STRONGER, and they said there is no proof that people have "roid rage." Just as there was no proof that Lyle Alzado got brain cancer from steroids (like he claimed). These are misconceptions.

Do cops lie? Okay, sure. Some may lie. But you know what? People in all professions lie. So, they are doing what everyone does, if it means saving their butts.

Now, let me give you an example of a bad cop, that DID NOT lie. Mensker, who shot Charger Foley. He ADMITTED, that he never showed his badge. I am telling you this, right now, if I was him, I would've lied, lied, lied. Because, it's your word (as a cop), against two drunk people in a car (both tested well over legal limit in their blood). Who do you think people will believe?

Yet, by Mensker admitting this, people instead give him a hard time, and ask WHY that wasn't the first thing he did. Yes, I agree. It should be the first thing an officer does. Heck, we see that in the cop movies. The wallet comes out, with the badge dangling from it in that little folder part. But...for whatever reason, in the heat of battle (for lack of a better word), he didn't. And he was honest about it.

So don't tell me cops all lie. He's a perfect example of one that didn't.

The last time I was in traffic court, for turning right at a light that said you couldn't do that...the cop admitted in court, that the sign is really small, and it's covered somewhat by a tree. Again, that's an honest officer. I then admitted, that it was still visible enough for me to see, and make out what it said.

The judge reduced by fine to like $40.

July 14, 2008

bad attidude to have. Who can predict that 12 miles down the road, a gum wrapper will fly out of a truck bed? You? Thats ridiculous. Sure if an officer is fortunate enough to witness this a ticket will be handed. The same would do for a cigarette, the problem is that smokers throwing out the stubs is a crime too hard to catch. People are resistant to change...proff positive when I drive around when I still see drivers holding conversations without the hands-free cell phone devices. Perhaps when people start getting these tickets, we will see less accidents and therefore less injuries as a result from drivers and there cell phone conversations.

Our legislators have taken it upon themselves to produce this new law that they feel is in the best interest of the public (Cell phone hands-free law, effective July 1, 2008 - California). Time will tell how effective it will be. Even with this new law in effect, our law enforcement agencies and officers have the ability to enfoce or not to enforce this law. One thing for sure, state and local revenues will be up as a direct result of this new law. People will end up having to attend a traffic school like www.web-trafficschool.com So many insurance companies are able to charge additional penalties for up to 36 months for any traffic violation on a drivers DMV record.

July 18, 2008

Josh, did you say you were driving a PORSCHE?

Don't get me wrong -- I don't mean anything negative by that.

When I was in my 20's, I owned a 1971 Datsun 240Z. In one year I received citations for speeding 3 separate times, as well as one citation for reckless driving. The fourth time I showed up in court I got one of the judges that had tried one of the earlier cases. When he said "YOU AGAIN?" I just knew it wasn't going to be a good day at the opera.

Then, after having that 240Z stolen, I bought a second one. After getting it restored so it was all nice and cherry, that one was stolen too. So I just gave up on the trick rides.

Then I got a 1990 grey Dodge Grand Caravan.

I drove EXACTLY the same way I drove the 240Z's. I NEVER got a moving violation citation on the Grand Caravan. Cops probably figured the driver was a stressed-out soccer mom on the way to school, or something like that.

The Porsche probably did not help your case that much.

July 18, 2008

WT_Effman 4:14 p.m., Jul 18, 2008

You are so right about this....

"Josh, did you say you were driving a PORSCHE?"

We are probably not hearing the story as it happened, plus you are right...it also doesnt help that he was driving a porsche. A police officer prob will not have much sympathy for a porsche driver...

Sept. 19, 2008

Of course we always have to be extra careful these days with so much distractions on the road. And officers are always ready willing and able to give you those tickets we all hate to get. I have been able to talk my way out of a couple of tickets, and still manage to get about a ticket every two or three years. Thank god for traffic schools.

For your convenience, this is now available online is the internet or online traffic school course. It satisfies the 8 hour requirement necessary for the DMV and is conveniently located on the internet. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can take this course anytime, pause, then continue where you left off. Most courts do allow an on-line traffic school, but please check first. 12 hour courses are never allowed online at anytime by any court, be advised. This course at www.web-trafficschool offers a user friendly, fast and convenient new way to take traffic school. Keep that point off your driving record, and keep that insurance from going up. Any DMV point stays on your driving record for 36 months, that means that if you would pay extra insurance for a DMV violation or point, you would have to pay that for 36 months or 3 years. This instruction uses many different styles and methods to keep you interested, and entertained in the program. These courses are offered for the single or one point violations and not for the 2-point violations.

The major convenience is of course you can take this class at home. The certificate once completed is sent directly to the court, so that you never have to correspond with the court or DMV. This certificate once sent clears the point, and more importantly keeps your insurance from detected a DMV point that would make your insurance increase.

You may also take drivers education online or on the internet. Each state has its own requirement with regard to subject and time, but in many respects are also very similar in nature and content. You will find the online drivers education course very user friendly and convenient as well. Not to mention much more affordable to most other options. The class is also offered at http://www.web-trafficschool.com

March 19, 2009

Drivers Education Instruction Driver's education is intended to supplement the knowledge obtained from government supplied driving handbooks and prepares students for tests to obtain their driver's license or learner's permit. In-car instruction places a student in a vehicle with an instructor. Many times a dual-controlled car can be used, a car with pedals or other controls for the passenger seat, may be used.

http://www.web-trafficschool.com/drivered.php

Some high schools in the United States offer driving instruction, though decreasing budgets and rising gas prices have reduced this. Many driver's education courses are available online. In the United States it is up to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, or equivalent, to accept any such programs as meeting their requirements. Many car insurance agencies also offer discounts to those students who have completed a driver's education program. Obtaining a drivers license Successful completion of a driver education course is required by many state agencies before young drivers receive their driver license or learner's permit. In some states, however, students taking driver's education have the opportunity to receive a waiver for successful course completion, which allows them to receive a learner's permit or driver's license without taking some of the tests

April 6, 2009

true, a win in court, really means that you get to give up part of your day to drive into the court. And for some that may mean driving out of your county. What it also means is that you have to pay in advance for the fine, even if you believe you are innocent. The court if it does fine you innocent, or dismisses you case will then take its sweet time in returning your money.

For me it took about 7 weeks. But it eventually did come.

April 7, 2009

In a 2005 California Tobacco survey more than 90% of those surveyed supported a law to ban smoking in cars when children are present, remarkably the survey indicated that close to 90% of even smokers surveyed agreed with the law. It has long been argued that children are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke. Studies have shown that the air quality with in a car, where someone is smoking can significantly endanger children in the vehicle. "The dangers of secondhand smoke are well published relative to in-door facilities, so ignoring the danger which occurs in the very tight environment with in a vehicle would be unforgivable," said Victor Hernandez of Web-Traffic School, during a recent interview. "It would seem to be only a matter of time before other states will follow suit." Web-Traffic School now incorporates driving related information into the air driver's ed courses and traffic school curriculum as a public service.

Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children as they breathe more rapidly than adults and their young lungs are still developing, and are more susceptible to the kinds of problems caused by breathing such pollutants. Studies suggest that children who breathe secondhand smoke on a regular basis are at a greater risk for serious ear infections. Other studies have shown that children who breathe in secondhand smoke regularly are much more likely to contract asthma and other breathing disorders than children who are not exposed to such smoke. Further, especially children six and under and especially babies who breathe in secondhand smoke are significantly more inclined to acquire respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

In January 2006 the state of California's Air Resource Board officially declared second hand smoke to be a toxic air contaminant, which in effect likens it to asbestos or automobile exhaust fumes in its toxicity level. This announcement set the stage for the passage of the current law. Further still, in June of 2006 United States Surgeon General announced the continued exposure to secondhand smoke can cause disease and or death, especially in children, but also in non-smoking adults. In the face of the publication of these types of surveys and significant statistics, which indicate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the dangers of breathing in other peoples exhaled smoke is significant indeed, public sentiment even from smokers has moved continually in the direction of protecting children and other non-smokers from the very real health dangers from secondhand smoke. Web-Traffic School has announced its intention to continually update the public of such new information or in conjunction with traffic school courses or driver's ed courses which are taught in their local California classrooms or in the similar courses that they have available across the country, online like at www.web-trafficschool.com

Sept. 22, 2009

You know how I can predict a gum wrapper flying out of the bed of a truck? The fact that it's in there!! If you truck drivers throw trash back there, no matter how small, you have to ASSume at some point it's going to fly out onto the streets and be litter.

Sept. 22, 2009
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Nov. 6, 2018

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