Ticket turns into hassle

Posted on August 6, 1999

Most sensible people would probably concede, pay the ticket and try harder next time. Not me. Finally, Aug. 2 at 8:50 a.m., the charges were dismissed. I was a free man. But the way it happened was a bit intriguing.

Mom's house is located in Audubon Park, a Louisville, Ky, suburb of about 1,500 residents. Like the Vactian, Audubon Park is a city within a city, with its own city hall and, of course, police force. Being extremely conscientious, I often set my cruise control to 25 mph down the main strip just to be safe. When I saw the lights flashing, my original thought was, "$*&%#! He just pulled me over for going $*&%# 28 mph!" Then he came to my window, told me I ran a stop sign and headed back to his car with my license and insurance card. He returned with a ticket.

I read the ticket when I returned to my home, which was about 200 yards away. I guess everyone is entitled to a mistake, but crossed out on the paper was "traveling at high (speed)," and eastbound was changed to westbound. At least to me, it appeared he was going to give someone a ticket. And why not give one to a person traveling late at night with out-of-state plates who looks 16?

I went to court in July, but the cop didn't show. Actually, I had to change the date so I could make it there. The man behind the desk said I could be there until 11 a.m., as long as I made it there by 8:30 a.m.

I didn't leave until noon. And for a person who's usually asleep at those hours, it's not easy to go to court, drive two-and-half hours and work a full night. But I did, mostly based on principle, partly based on stupidity.

Mom had a chat with a lawyer, and family friend, who said he could take care of the ticket without me being there. I figured, heck, I've been through all of this, I might as well go back one last time. Plus, I enjoy walking through the metal detector and watching people with belt buckles the size of Maine wonder about the beeping.

As I'm waiting outside the courtroom, a former co-worker who happens to be a cop stopped to chat. I told him what had happened. He said he would take care of it.

Sure enough, he tells me in court they were going to lessen my charge to "faulty equipment." I went before the bench with the cop. The judge mumbled something. I then nodded and left. The lawyer never showed.

Does the system work? I can't tell you with 100 percent certainty I stopped, but I'm pretty sure of it. Was the ticket worth the hassle? Probably not. Should I get a certificate of merit for fighting the thing? Definitely not. I guess the moral is to stay friendly with as many people as possible, because it could help in the long run. The co-worker had actually suspended me from work two years before, but he later won my respect.

So if anyone asks why I received a ticket, I guess I'll tell them my cigarette lighter didn't work.

"Officer, how could you tell the lighter didn't work?"

"Couldn't see the glow around the lighter, son. Are you old enough to drive?