Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The pigs are flying... well, circling actually

Have you been pulled over lately? Did you receive a ticket for going a mere five or six miles an hour over the speed limit? Have you seen more police officers on the side of the road in the last few months, or are you seeing more officers driving through school or construction zones?

In this time of economic hardship, many people are worried about funding. Police officers are no exception. Some of the revenue generated by traffic tickets, parking fines, and other citations help fund good jobs and great benefits. If the government cannot provide long-term support for these jobs and benefits, the judicial system will turn elsewhere. As there is no shortage of speeders, red-light-runners, and all-out reckless drivers, traffic citations are easy game for funds.

I know. You never speed. You've never had a ticket. You're perfect. But all it takes is one mistake! An officer will be there behind you, red and blue lights a'flashing. But now, instead of possibly being able to talk or cry your way out of it, the officer won't even give you a warning. Warnings don't do anything but cost the officer and you precious time. BAM, ticket with your name on it, permanently marring your spotless record. Now you'll have to make a choice: do you plead not guilty and go to court, or do you plead guilty/no contest and write a letter explaining how you weren't really speeding to the judge? I could say that State Troopers rarely show up for traffic trials, but then I'd be giving legal advice (and that's a no-no). If it's a city court and your first-ever traffic ticket having lived in the same city for your whole life, it's probably better to just plead guilty, write a letter asking for a reduction, and send in the money.

One thing I can tell you is that the fine will not be reduced if you don't ask for it. With courts holding on to money as much as possible, they won't reduce your fine automatically.

The best way to save money (or at least not have to spend it quickly) is to not speed. We all know that officers aren't working under quotas (ha!), and that tickets don't increase when they're worried about funding (HAHA!). Do yourself a favor and be a good driver. Your insurance company, your wallet, and I all thank you kindly for that.

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