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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Melinama gets up early to go to Traffic Court in Hillsborough North Carolina

Eighteen years ago I got a ticket for speeding on Weaver Dairy Road. It's a nice wide road, no obstacles, few traffic lights, a 35 mph speed limit, and (I learned back then) a lot of traffic cops hiding behind bushes.

Since then I have always been cautious on Weaver Dairy Road, but a few weeks back I tried Weaver Dairy Road extension, which is like the old part of the road except broader, bigger, no lights at all, and completely deserted. "Excellent road!" I thought until the cop turned his lights on and I suddenly realized this long, broad, excellent road had a TWENTY-FIVE MPH speed limit and was a total speed trap.

So my court date was this morning. I was pretty nervous about it and didn't even know where traffic court was, so I left the house early and got there an hour and a half before the court opened. There were already about sixty people ahead of me in line. It's a good thing it was a pretty day. I got out my Yiddish homework and worked while eavesdropping on indignant Americans, young and old, every race, telling each other they did not deserve their tickets. "Baloney," I think to myself, "each of us deserves the pink slip clutched in hand plus hundreds more." Then I heard them tell each other - indignantly - what a waste of their time it was to stand in this line, and that they had more important things to do, and then some blamed the car companies: "They shouldn't make cars that go so fast."

After a while the doors opened and we started flowing in. I have to say, it was kind of fun, because first, I like eavesdropping on indignant Americans, and second, every single soul working at District Court was kind, friendly, and efficient. One guy was going through the line dismissing charges right and left (unfortunately, not for my offense!) and letting the people go home.

My friend Judy had told me to ask for a "Prayer for Judgment Continued." If you have a clean record, they let you go with just court costs and nothing goes on your record. But it's not a Get Out Of Jail Free card, because if you get knicked again within three years, you get nailed for both tickets and more penalties too.

The judge came in a little late, we who had been sent upstairs to court were sitting in the pews, many still chatting quietly about the injustice of it all.

She called us up three by three and was quite lenient. Each person took about 10 seconds of her time (or less), except one kid who had given a false name to the officer who stopped him. That kid is in trouble.

I got my seven seconds, sat on a bench for a while, was ushered to a line at the cashier, paid out $110 cash - among people who were milling around muttering indignantly because Orange County will not accept their personal checks. It said so right on the ticket, dummies.

Some wanted to argue that THEY were special cases.

It amazes me that people think they might be special cases.

So all in all, it was expensive but fun. I should not have lost sleep over it.

As I left the building, relieved though poorer, I was astonished to see about six hundred people standing in this fat line which snaked down the hill, through a big parking lot, and took a right turn by another building and out to a sidewalk. Somebody said there were 1500 people to be processed this morning.

I saw one of my ex-students in line - she was there as witness for her companion, who was (they say) "Not Guilty." Hmm. How long were you in that line, my friend?

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At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melinama---Another fun story for me to read. Living in a rural community, I could relate to this tale. The other day, I called hub to warn him that 2 state cops were sitting along the road on my way to work . The speed limit is 45 until you hit the small town where the community college is located...then , the speed limit drops to 35. Also, I think ''Speeding on Weaver Dairy Road'' would be a great title for a story, song, or your biography!!!!~~~Susanlynn, speeding down life's highway

At 10:55 PM, Blogger miatagirl said...

Hi Jane. It was good to see you this morning. We got out at 10:30, but Susan never got to see the judge. We stood in the line for 1 1/2 hours only to get another court date. And, yes, she did actually stop at the stop sign. She stopped once, started moving and hesitited when she saw the officer about a block behind us.

However, there have been numerous times when she hasn't completely stopped at those 4-way signs near our old house in Chapel Hill -- but she's much more hard-headed about these things than I am. Besides, when I moved in with her, I added her to my car insurance so she could drive my Miata without me having to worry about whether or not my insurance would pay if she wrecked it. My insurance went up almost immediately due to her previous tickets. Neither of us needs our insurance going any higher than it already is.

As for myself, my last ticket was a stupid one I got the summer before last while driving my Miata to Texas to visit my parents. It's a long drive, and by the time I got to Okalahoma, I was anxious to get there. A car passed me going between 100 and 110 so I decided to get on it's tail. Bad choice. The trooper managed to get both of us to pull over. I rarely go more than 75 or 80 max on the interstate, and in town, I never go more than 5 miles over the speed limit. And I stop completely at all stop signs. I had to hire a lawyer in OK to handle that one.

Anyway, I just hope Susan gets this one dismissed, or I'm going to have to take her off my insurance and not let her drive my Miata anymore. She's never gotten a ticket in the Miata, but I can't afford the insurance if she keeps it up.


At 11:00 PM, Blogger miatagirl said...

P.S. I have a new cat drawing on my website. Check out my doctor cat at I've had a suggestion for a cat playing the bongos, so that will probably be my next drawing. I'm always open to suggestions.

Also, I'm singing with the Common Woman Chorus. We have a funny concert coming up on Nov. 18. Email me for the details if you're interested -- it's in Durham. You still have my email, right?


At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another tax really. Having a 25 mph speed zone on a deserted road is ludicrous. My work van almost idles at 25 in 'Drive'. Exactly who is being protected?

What I hate most about NC is the trooper traffic stops. I've still got property there, but I'm going back to sell it. I lived there 20 years too. Bah Humbug!


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