Thursday, March 13, 2008

My criminal life...

I'm a law abiding citizen, 99% of the time. This morning I found out what happens when I drift into that 1%. A month or so ago I was taking Miss Alexa to school because she missed the bus again (another story, we have the bus driver from you know where). I'm going down Maple Rd.* Not speeding as I have plenty of time get Alexa to school and I'm even contemplating a stop at Starbucks.

* For those who don't know Maple, here in Williamsville, it is 5 lanes wide, 2 eastbound, 2 westbound with a solid/dash turning, merging lane in the middle.

I was traveling in the far right lane, eastbound and there was a school bus in the far right lane traveling westbound. The bus stopped at a house on Maple (I even know who's because they have a daughter that is a friend of Alexa's) and I thought, "Do I stop? Yes, No, it's five lanes! No crossing indicated, No child would ever be crossing from my side of Maple, there's a median in between (even if it's a turning median) So...I kept going - mistake, BIG MISTAKE!!

The bus driver gave me a dirty look and honked her horn. I slouched in my seat, properly contrite and then I saw the lights behind me and the siren. Directly behind me was an unmarked police car and a cop in civvies. I turned the corner to get off the street and he pulled in behind me. In his best no nonsense, put the fear of "Law and Order" look, he gives me a ticket. No muss, no fuss, no asking me for explanations. Just my quick apology and I'm done.

Of course, I've got Alexa in the back seat. Not that she would admit it, but I think she was just as scared as I was because she didn't say a word! Those that know Lex know that is almost impossible for her to keep quiet! So as I drive away and head for her school I give her a civics lesson for the day. I admit I was wrong, I committed the violation, my ignorance of the law is no excuse, I'm going to take my punishment, yada, yada, yada!

The next day I go the courthouse with my ticket to find out what my punishment is and to pay my fine. After going through the metal detector, and finding where to go I'm asked by the clerk, "How do you plead?" well, I did it didn't I so I say, "Guilty". I'm so civic minded and quick to fess up that they don't even have the ticket from the cop yet and tell me I'll get my fine amount in the mail.

Later that day I go to work and I tell my sad, criminal story to Sharon and Dimitra at the store and they both look at me and almost in unison say "You never plead guilty! What were you thinking?" Now I'm really confused! "I did it!" I tell them, "What was I supposed to do?"

Come to find out that I should have pleaded "not guilty" and taken driver's school or whatever to avoid getting points on my license, plus my fine money would stay in Amherst instead of going to Albany. But I'm so torn, because I knew I was guilty, I gave Alexa this wonderful lesson in civic and personal responsibility by fessing up. Now I come to find out I did the wrong thing? Where's Sam Waterston when I need him, Perry Mason even?

I call the courthouse, ask if I can change my plea, they say yes, just send my notice back asking for a court date and a change of plea. I do all this, sweat out getting another notice telling me that March 13 (what a number) is my court date.

Well, I practically speed getting there, afraid I'm going to be late looking for a cop around every corner, wondering if I'm going to be able to pick my husband up at the airport tonight or will I be searching for someone to post bail because the judge is going to laugh in my face and throw me into jail to set an example - I'm thinking I'm going to be the Paris Hilton of middle aged women in Williamsville. Sent to jail for a first offense to teach everyone else a lesson! Who am I going to call? - (hint - those two at the store who told me to plead not guilty).

Well, I get in line, speak to the prosecutor (with no voice, as I lost it last night and am croaking, like a frog). He looks at "my jacket", God, I've got a jacket! and says "I'll knock it down to parking and we'll see if the judge agrees". I croak my, "thank you" and go into the courtroom.

After an enlightening half hour listening to every imaginable traffic violation and one slightly scary drug defendant in handcuffs, the judge calls my name, I stand-up, he looks at my jacket and says, "not stopping for school bus, reduced to parking, fine amount" done. I croak my "thank you", and go pay my fine, get in my car, crawl home at 20 mph, stopping at almost every corner and signalling even if I just turn my head.

I'm so happy, relieved, and embarrassed that this is over. Although, I have to admit, I was almost looking forward to calling this guy, if my case went south...


Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,

Glad things worked out OK. I'm dealing with a similar situation for Tommy. He's been driving for 3 years without a ticket or problem, but finally got a speeding ticket the other day. Mike wants him to fight it, but Tommy just wants to pay and move on (hopefully slower). Me, I've got three speed warnings in 17 years (the state keeps track) so I'm screwed if I screw up again!

Barb in NH

JessW said...

You are too funny! I love reading your entries, you have a true gift for the written word. I feel like I am part of your adventures every time I read them.
I an only sympathize with your plight... as a person who in her much younger years (those young & foolish days) had 11 points on my license and received a "naughty, threat to society" letter from the Govenor of NY.
See you in less than 2 weeks! Yipppeee! Jess

Elisabeth said...

OMG, this is too funny...did you fess up and tell Lex you changed your plea?

Tracy said...

Ha-ha-Ha- THIS IS A GREAT Post! Sorry about your ticket. I went to traffic court about 10 years ago to contest a speeding ticket and it scared the wits out of me. As I waited for "my turn" the nice police officers brought in creepy characters, cuffed and in orange jumpsuits. I felt extremely out of place.
Do you really have Jack Bauer's number??? Now that would be handy.

Laura said...

Donna, you are too much! If I was there, i would have said the same thing- never plead guilty. I learned the hard way when I was 18 and didn't know any better. I don't think it is so much a matter of being honest as it is just how the system works.
Anyway, I'm tagging you- details are on my blog Have fun!

Chiara said...

wow that is great here in the city they never change to lower points. Glad things worked out

joanne (spagirl) said...

i am sorry it took me so long to read this!
wow! i'm glad it worked out for you!
i got a speeding ticket out of town... in geneva... had to drive back to geneva for the court date (i was going to plead not guilty) but the prosecuter told me to plead guilty because that would lower it... the points on my license part, not the fine... that was $130. and, i was not speeding like crazy... the street they pulled me over on goes from 55 to 45 to 30 like that! so... i was doing 45 in a 30... ??? thinking about it still makes me mad!!! $130??!!
eta: i was just tagged... can that count for yours?! lol!

Lynn said...

NEXT TIME you get yourself in a little mischief PLEASE call Officer Dan's wife and we can pow wow with the legal expert.....I did know you're never supposed to plead guilty for anything....and that you should always try to get the charges lowered to a non-moving violation, but that's about as far as I go. Glad you changed your plea though; you got good advice. good luck!

Lynn said...

don't we miss Jack?