Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Longer a Traffic Ticket Virgin

Was it rotten luck or has the law of averages finally caught up with me? Well maybe it was just the law catching up with me. Last Monday morning as I was driving home from the store, I suddenly heard a siren and when I looked at my rear view mirror, a police car had followed me.  I pulled over right away, turned off the engine and radio and waited for the officer to approach. He motioned for me to lower my side window and I greeted him good morning. He said that I did not stop at the red light when I made a right turn at the major intersection I just came from. Here is my version of the circumstances: I was following a car ahead of me, paused briefly before making the right turn, and after seeing the north/south cars were making their left turns because they had the green left turn traffic lights, I figured it was safe to proceed. I didn’t argue this point with the officer of course. He asked me for my license and insurance card. I thought he was just going to check the information on his computer and was hoping that he was only going to give me a warning after finding out that I have no prior violations. No such luck. He came back and asked me if I had any recent tickets and I said I never had one. He then asked me to sign the ticket and gave me a copy. I said “wow, my first ticket ever!”. When I asked him if he knew how much the ticket would cost, he said he didn’t but that it shouldn’t take off points from my license and my insurance wouldn’t increase. When I got home, I looked up what violation I was ticketed for and it was indeed for not stopping at a red light which was an infraction under the California Vehicle Code. The base fine for the ticket is $100 but with court costs and other fees tacked on, the total would reach close to $500 if not more. Good heavens, that’s a 400 percent increase! With the money I need for my visit to the Philippines and what I can give to help supplement my mother’s care, I’m bleeding cash at the moment. Donations accepted here (just kidding). In the meantime, I’ve been gun shy about driving. I’ve been trying to drive the speed limit, stopping at red lights before making a right turn, and looking around to check for lurking police cars.
                I’ve been checking the Los Angeles Superior Court website and so far my citation number hasn’t been logged yet and I still haven’t received my courtesy letter from the court, therefore I still don’t know what the total fine will be. This violation has violated me – I’m no longer a traffic ticket virgin.

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