Traffic Court: A Day Late & A Dollar Short

This is definitely not my week! First I crash, then the next day I drag my battered, bruised, and drugged up body to the mailbox and what do I find? A letter from the Solicitor General: You are cordially invited to a High Performance Awards ceremony. Please RSVP. Ah crap! They haven’t forgotten about me after all. Shit! I got a bench trial scheduled in 6 days! How about a little more lead time? I smell a continuance. Last August I was  busted going an alleged 78 in a 55 on my way home from work. This was not two weeks after I got stopped by a motor officer for doing a similar speed in a 45 who also told me about a little speeding ticket avoidance strategy. And no, it wasn’t “don’t speed in the first place.” Enough said. Damn, that Hayabusa is quick, deceptively so! Maybe that’s one of the reasons I developed that blasted riding kink of constantly staring at my speedo. Anyway, I tossed the letter aside, I was in too much pain to even deal with that little inconvenience. Fast forward: Day before the trial. I take an online crash (no pun intended) course in criminal defense law and then take the BAR exam: Read: I ingest massive amounts of questionable legal info I find online and have myself a few cold brewskis. I’m gonna beat the rap! Stick it to the man! Save myself $84. My energy burns fast on an empty tank. I finally give up and decide I’m just gonna wing it. I have neither the patience nor the brain for it, my head is still hurting and I’m starting to get anxious. I’m not sleeping well at all. I’m practicing my ‘defense’ which now has been reduced to: “Your Honor, I move for a dismissal due to lack of evidence.” (copper doesn’t show) or “Your Honor, I would like to, at this time, change my plea to Guilty and not waste anymore of the court’s time. Here’s my 84 smackers, I’ll be on my way.” (copper puts in an appearance). So sad, considering I was a Criminal Justice major in college. Hahahahaa…. but damnit, all this crap always happens at the worst possible! Freakin’ Murphy and his law. No excuse, I could have had this shit prepared and ready to go a long time ago, but didn’t want to deal and as more time went by, I actually thought they decided $84 wasn’t worth their time.

So after a sleepless night and a coffee-deprived morning of digging through my closet to find a few pieces of clothing worthy of State Court, a stop at the ATM to get some cash out, we finally arrive at the court house. We are directed upstairs and the familiar spiel begins. They don’t call my name. I’m beginning to think we’re in the wrong court room when a bailiff sticks his head in to announce that if we got a letter in the mail to go to the other room. We get up, letter in hand, and do as instructed. We end up in a court room where a lot of the word ‘sentencing’ is thrown around. Shit! Whatever happened to the part in between? I could have sworn there was something going on between arraignment and sentencing, but what do I know. I ain’t no stinking lawyer. After the first two cases are called, I can’t shake the ‘there’s something wrong here’ feeling, so I get up and ask the bailiff at the door. He looks at my letter and says I’m in the wrong place but he’ll find out where I need to be, he takes the letter and leaves. He speaks with a woman in the hall, she points out that the letter states that my court date was yesterday, and that I missed it. WTF?!? What do we do now? Downstairs to the Solicitor’s Office. I could have sworn today was the 31st AND Thursday. I had it half-right, but now I might have a bench warrant out for my arrest. Holy Helena! I’m such a dumbass! After about 15 minutes of kicking around in this little room that serves as the reception area of the Solicitor’s Office, I am told that I owe them TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY stinking dollars! So an $84 68-in-a-55 speeding ticket has turned into $280 worth of forfeiture by failure to appear in court. For that kind of money, I want to at least get an opportunity to flip off a judge! Hubby and I only have $260 between the two of us, so we have to go make yet another cash run! They should really install an ATM in the Law Enforcement Center, then they could charge us desperados a $10 ATM fee and make some more money for the State of Georgia. Oh crap! I just gave them an idea…

Miss Busa’s Lessons Learned in Speed Demon Law:

  • If you are a CDL holder in the fine State of Georgia the 13mph and under rule does not apply. Any speeding ticket gets reported, whether I go 1 mile over or 13. So, I’m going to have to make it worth my while next time: 38 in a 25, 58 in a 45, 68 in a 55, and 83 in a 70. 😉 (“But, Your Honor, I wasn’t using my Class A, I was, at the moment in question, using my Class M…”)
  • Up to 13mph above the speed limit carries no points. (83 in a 70! Wooooohooooooo!)
  • If you don’t show up in court it is going to get REALLY expensive, so make sure you got your date straight and check it twice.
  • They take cash AFTER the court date but not BEFORE. WTF?!?
  • A speedy trial in GA is considered getting around to it within two years after the fact of legally witnessed rocketeering on public streets. So much for that 45-day thing, huh? And even if you are able to assert the ‘right to a speedy trial’ defense, you better put your request in writing, return receipt requested. And it is only available in a court that can impanel a jury. (I had that one covered, but failed to assert my right with a letter.)
  • It’s easier to defend against radar than it is laser. (Laser jammers are legal in GA, but radar jammers are not. This one gets a lot of peeps off the hook, the probs with radar, read up on it, very useful!)
  • Next time, don’t stop. ;P
  • You can find out what they got on you with a little process called ‘discovery’. What a shame, I didn’t know that option was available in traffic court.
  • Do your research first, go to the scene, take pictures, get your shit together. It doesn’t go away, just because you ‘don’t want to deal with it’ and have other crap in your life to deal with. Get it out of the way, have a game plan, then at least you got your case prepared while it’s fresh in your memory and then who cares how long it takes. Or you can just go ahead and mail in your fee for a guaranteed loss.
  • I’m going to plead ‘not guilty’ again, if… no when the time comes. I’ve learned a lot from this ‘epic fail’ of an experience. My ticket, had I shown up 24 hours earlier and got my ass spanked by the prosecution would have still only been $84 and had I won my case, I would have been stuck with a free ride and no insurance premium increase, all you’re out of is your personal time and you get to exercise your brain. =)

Oh, and that one little thing…. don’t speed in the first place…. hmmmm….. that’s cruel and unusual punishment on a Hayabusa. Cruel! I tell ya, cruel!

On the way out, one of the two officers at the  security checkpoint yells at me as I come down the stairs: “You’re going to jail! … (shortish pause) … April’s Fools!” I don’t miss a beat as I hop down the last few steps and round the corner around the checkpoint: “I have just paid 280 bucks that say: Not a chance!” He replies: “Ran a stop sign?” I smile and say: “Nope!” as I push my way through the double doors to smell the sweet air of warrant-less freedom.

Learned something else: Apparently running a stop sign in GA sets you back around $280. I’m sure there’s probably 3 points on that, too.

This concludes Miss Busa’s Epic Fail in her first trial experience. I should really fire my attorney!!!

For some reason my butt hurts…

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