No doubt, many who begin to read this tale of woe will not get very far before they find themselves saying, “Yeah, yeah. Just pay the ticket and get over it.” Which no doubt I will do in good time, but first I’m going to vent a bit.
I’ve been licensed to drive automobiles for 45 years. In all of that time, I’ve only received three (3) speeding tickets. One which a little better luck would have allowed me to avoid, one which was clearly deserved, and one today which was nothing more than a thinly disguised methodology for increasing a small southern town’s revenue stream.
My first ticket was received as I was driving across the vast emptiness that is west Texas in a minivan rented from Hertz. The officer who pulled me over expressed his confusion over the fact that I had not slowed down as he approached me from the opposite direction. “If you had, I’d of just kept going and let you off”, he told me through a toothy grin.
I explained to him that I didn’t feel the need to slow down because I had the cruise control set right at the speed limit. “Hmm”, he replied as he wrote out my ticket.
It was later determined that the speedometer in the minivan was indicating 12 mph slower than the van’s actual speed. Thank you Hertz, thank you Chrysler. Regardless, I accepted fault and paid the $120 fine.
My second ticket was received on a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. It was without doubt completely my fault as I was driving through the park at 45 mph knowing full well that the park-wide speed limit was 35 mph. Two heavily armed park rangers with extreme no-nonsense attitudes vis à vis the speed limits within their slice of natural splendor, briefly explained the error of my ways. I totally agreed as they fondled their 9mm semiautomatics and I happily paid the prescribed $90 fine.
Today, I received my third speeding ticket. Today, I will not accept the accusation that I was speeding. Today I was victimized by an officer who purportedly is sworn to protect and defend.
I was driving up the interstate on my way to the in-law’s home in South Carolina. I set the cruise control on 70 mph as I left Atlanta and didn’t touch it until blue lights interrupted my journey somewhere just south of my destination.
As I handed over the requested documentation, I informed Officer Fife that there was no way that I was going 86, much less 81, as I had the cruise set at 70 which also prevented me from allegedly reducing my speed as I approached his stakeout position.
I might as well have been speaking to the weeds lining the interstate where I’d come to rest.
Ten minutes passed. Barney finally came back to my car and handed me the ticket. “Sir, I’m not going to cite you for going 86. I’m not even going to write you up for doing 81. That would have cost you $250.”
I suppose that I was expected to have been grateful at that point, but I really wanted to ask him if he had noticed the two or three other cars that had blown by me as I was driving past his poorly camouflaged speed trap.
Before I could open my mouth, he continued, “I’m going to write you up for doing 74 in a 65 mph zone. The fine for that will only be $80. You can either come to court or send your payment to . . . . yadda, yadda, yadda.”
Before I could point out that in actual fact, I’d never exceeded 70 mph, Officer Fife had spun on his heels and beat a hasty retreat to his car intent on picking out his next victim.
I’m going to pay the fine. It would cost me more than $80 to come back in order to defend myself in court. It’s interesting how the price-points on these fines are so precisely calculated.
The only good thing that can be said regarding this sorry affair is that over time, my cost per ticket continues to drop. I guess I should find some solace in that. But I can’t help believing that I’ve just been ripped off.
Have a good day. Drive safely and don’t forget to buckle up!