Smile...You're On Traffic Camera
In Trouble Again?
I have lost count of the number of times I have been surprised by those red and blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror. I CAN remember the number of times I have been sent on my merry way without a ticket or warning. That’s easy. Zero. I don’t have blonde hair or blue eyes, and though I have what some might consider “nice boobs” due to their significant dimension, the fact is they are quite fuzzy and on a man’s chest which renders them useless as a bargaining tool.
Smile you’re on camera
Even more surprising are those letters from the Safe Zones Program, a free photo of your vehicle as it exceeds the speed limit in one of the Safe Zones. I have gotten a few of those, and being of sound mind and rebellious spirit exercise my right to a day in court in lieu of sticking forty bucks in an envelope for a photo of the back of my car I did not ask for and did not want. On the first occasion I went to court, plead guilty and found they lowered the fine to $17. The next two (2) times I plead NOT GUILTY because the photos (two are required with a fixed object as a reference point) may have had reference points, but you couldn’t see any, BECAUSE IT WAS PITCH DARK! The only thing you could see was the license plate with its tag light, and the two taillights. They both were dismissed without having to appear. The next one, a futile attempt to question the validity and accuracy of the device fell on deaf ears when the State Trooper certified both the device’s validity and accuracy. $17 bucks on that one.
It wasn’t me! Honest!
The last one I was issued, with my name on the top as the perpetrator took place an hour away from my home. It was a nice photo of my truck all right, but I was NOT driving it. Someone who will go unnamed was. I knew it wasn’t me because there was a rug sticking out of the back. A rug someone who will go unnamed at this time was bringing home from the lakehouse. I was home at the time. She who will go unnamed at this time was heading that way when she ran through a photo camera in a construction zone across a bridge well over the speed limit.
No Harm No Foul
If you ever get one of these letters they make it clear that there are NO POINTS accrued with a Photo Violation, and they CANNOT BE USED TO INCREASE YOUR INSURANCE RATES. Like a parking ticket, pay the fine and case closed. You do have the right to have a hearing, but you have to request it and they will give you a court date. So when a close associate of mine who will go unnamed at this time was responsible for getting one in the family truck, I knew I was taking this one to court. Why? See below:
Cited for Speeding
The Citation was addressed to: FRANK LOUIS MILLER, your’s truly. 69 in a 55 work zone. Amount due: $40.00. Now then…on the back side of the photo citation in a section titled: “Work Zone Speed Monitoring Citation Notice” they lay out the rules, “A vehicle registered or leased to you was photographed by an automatic camera connected to a speed monitoring system. Vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit by a least 12 MPH are detected automatically and two photographs are taken.”
Following the Procedures
They lay out: Payment Options, How To Request a Court Date, How to Request the Presence of the Speed Monitoring System Operator….and… in big bold letters : IF YOU WERE NOT THE DRIVER. Essentially you have to write a letter that, “… must be: (1) sworn to or affirmed by you, and (2) mailed by certified mail, return receipt. Include in the letter all corroborating evidence.” So, I wrote the letter indicating I was NOT driving the car, in fact I was home with my teenage daughter at the time. I took it down to my friendly notary, swore to her that I was NOT driving the vehicle, signed the letter in her presence, she stamped it and I took it to the post office mailed certified with return receipt. In ten days I got the receipt back signed, and a court date. Today I went to my hearing. Brought the person who will not be named who WAS driving the truck with me.
Day in Court
We took a seat in the large courtroom and watched as police officers and attorneys and a host of miscreants filed in to fill 80% of the seats. Some dressed for Sunday Services, and others like they just crawled out from under their 59 Chevy after an oil change. A few minutes before 9:00 a well-dressed man stood up and asked if anyone present was there for a Safety Zone Violation. One man raised his hand and the well-dressed man who turned out to be an attorney approached him. I stood up to listen in. A man with a hair style done by a rabid beaver stood up as well. The first dude was arguing his case while “Beaver Cut” kept repeating, “He tryin’ to save you money man, he tryin’ to save you money.”
Sharp Dressed Man
Sharp dressed man finally turned to me. I explained that I was not driving the truck and had followed all the procedures to certify that. “Understood, so this is a transfer of liability case. You identify who was driving the vehicle and they will cite that individual and set another court date.” He started to walk away, but I had a question for him, “Is it required for a husband to testify against, say his wife?” He gave me this WTF look, and walked away. “Tell it to the judge,” he muttered as he moved on to the next miscreant. I sat back down.
Here Come Da Judge
The Judge entered, we all rose, and he asked those present if, “Has everyone with a Safety Zone citation checked in with the “Sharp Dressed Man?” who raised his hand and turned to face the gallery. Everyone had. The Judge then called each of the officers and had their cases one by one, fines, PBJ (Probation Before Judgment), guilty 5 points, I will reduce 85 in a 55 to 84 and save your three points. Fair guy. Guilty $300 for overweight truck, etc. “
Finally it was turn for the Photo Gallery. He called a few, most had paid the $40.00 fine – case dismissed , one plead guilty fined $40.00 took a seat, then called Frank Miller…and Coletta Miller. Did they know something they weren’t telling? Then the Judge said, “I just need Frank Miller, Coletta Miller’s name is only because her name is on the vehicle registration as a co-owner…how do you plead Mr. Miller?” “Not guilty your honor.” “What do you want to tell me?” Here is what I said:
And How Do You Plead?
“Your Honor , I was cited for speeding in my truck, but I was not driving it at the time and completed all the required paperwork certifying that position.” The judge looked at the papers he had, looked at the bailiff and said, “Isn’t there supposed to be a back to this, I only have the front.” I spoke up, “Your honor I have the original copy sent me would you like to see it and my documentation?” He started to reach in my direction, then remembered protocol and directed his bailiff to retrieve my papers. He looked over them, noting my yellow highlighted section about how to proceed IF YOU WERE NOT THE DRIVER. Then he said this, “Mr. Miller, if you were not driving the vehicle can you tell me who was?” I replied, “Your honor, is a husband required to testify against his wife?”
Are You Telling Me the Law, Boy?
He looked up a me, then back at the citation. He read it aloud. He read it again. Then…and here is where it gets good, he reached up for a thick law book on his bench. “Better get this right for the next time this comes up.” Turned to the section in question, “It’s five pages long!” Then proceeded to read aloud the pertinent section, “Acceptable reasons to plead Not Guilty: Car was stolen. No, that doesn’t apply. Individual cited testifies that he/she was not driving the vehicle. You’ve done that. Provides a letter, got that here, certified, yup, return receipt, got that too.” Closes the law book, tosses it across his desk, the Sharp Dressed Man looks at me smiles and winks, the Judge says, “Well the law hints that the actual driver should be identified, but does not require it.” He wasn’t angry, just surprised that there was this large loophole in the law, and I had just stepped right through it. “Case dismissed, give Mr. Miller his documents bailiff.” And I turned and walked out of the courtroom smiling and glowing that I had raised a point the Judge, the Bailiff, the attorneys and everyone remaining in the gallery hadn’t considered. And I am not even an attorney Maybe I did miss my calling…