It was about two weeks ago I was driving to meet up with my children’s doctor: G-, my 11yo, had a very painful ear infection and he was supposed to get on a plane the following day to fly from Colorado to Germany with his Mom. She wasn’t being very sympathetic and I’d pushed aggressively for him to have more medical treatment. The result: our doc was coming into her office on her day off to have another look at G’s ear and prescribe stronger meds.
Coming into Boulder from points east, there’s a speed trap as Highway 36 turns north and drops you onto 28th Street, and I’m well aware of it. In about 200 yards it goes from 60mph to 55mph and then to 40mph. Another 500 yards and it’s 35mph and you’re on a city street.
This time I was worried about my son and zipping along, just to be shocked when the flashing lights of a police cruiser pull up behind me. Aww hell. Using her radar gun, she’d clocked me at 64mph in the 40mph zone and she wrote me up for 63 in a 40, a major traffic infraction that has a base penalty of $300 and 6 points on my license.
To put this in perspective, Colorado Vehicle Code states that if you get 12 points on your license in any 12 month period your drivers license can be suspended. Yikes!
I was too distracted and upset to explain anything about the medical emergency to the cop (who might have written me up for something lesser. Or not) so I had a mandatory court appearance scheduled for 30 days after, a day that I’m already scheduled to give a talk to the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.
Rather than reschedule, I called the County Clerk and found out that I could show up any Wednesday or Friday morning and get on the docket so I decided I’d show up on my birthday. Why not? I figured I’d get it over with, one way or another.
I had visions of TV courtroom dramas in my head and spent some time thinking about the points I wanted to make. They were: good driving record (second moving violation in ten years as a Colorado resident), single Dad, medical emergency with my son, and that I was keeping up with traffic and was surprised as heck when the officer told me I was going 23mph faster than the limit.
It doesn’t quite work that way. First off, I showed up at 8.00am to get on the docket early, then sat in an empty courtroom until 8.45am or so when the judge arrived.
He called me up after explaining the rules of the court, including that there are three possible pleas you can enter: guilty, a request to speak with the Prosecutor, or not guilty with a request for a trial. The trial can further be judge or jury, but you have to file the appropriate paperwork, etc. Interestingly, one gal with a minor traffic infraction (no points, $100 fine) requested a trial while I was there. I suspect she wasn’t fully aware of her options as her English wasn’t strong, but it certainly didn’t faze the judge.
When it was my turn he read out the charge, the fine, and asked for my plea. “I’d like a chance to speak with the Prosecutor, actually.”
So I left the court and walked around the corner, then met with a representative of the prosecutors office, to whom I explained the exigent circumstances. She said that the judge determined the financial side of things and that they’d offer me a 4 point penalty instead of a 6 point penalty.
I asked if there were any options to lower it to 3 points and she said “traffic school?” Sold! A four hour traffic school that costs $50, and I have two months to complete it, versus 4 points on my license (remember, 12 points gets my license suspended). Dropping that additional point seemed more than worth a morning of my time.
I was then sent back to the courtroom where the judge again called me up and updated the court record on the lowered penalty. I explained the medical situation and handed him a letter that I’d had our doctor write for me. He read it, thought for a moment, and said that he’d reduce my fine from $300 to $100.
I pleaded guilty and that’s where things stand. Better yet, I paid the $100 with my Amazon credit card, so I got points against the next book I purchase too. Really, it was all for the Amazon points.
I’ll update my blog when I get to traffic school. I envision that being a terribly boring and banal four hours, but if it means I have 9 points of breathing space rather than 8, well, it’s time well spent.
Now, back to my day…