Thursday, January 08, 2009


I have another illustration of government corruption. On my last day coming home from Houghton (after 10pm, December 15), I got pulled over by a Cop. It turned out that my back license plate light was out. Now, in most cases, the officer will just let the driver know and the driver will get it fixed. In this case, however, the officer actually issued the infraction. He told me "It's not a ticket" and "you won't have to pay a fine." He also told me that the form said I had to get it fixed in the next 24 hours, but that in reality as long as I got it done in the next few days it'd be alright.

Well, the next day I made an appointment to get some work done on my car and informed the mechanic I'd also need that light changed. I took my car in that night. I got it back and sent the form in, marked on the 18th (3 ='s a few). About a week later I got a $75 bill from the Alabama town court. It said I owed that amount b/c I hadn't returned the form in 24 hours.

I then tried about a dozen times over the next few days to get a hold of them using the numbers on the mailing. Usually no one answered (even during office hours). Sometimes I left messages, but got no call backs. When I finally got a hold of someone they told me to call back at 7pm this past Tuesday night. When I did so, they informed me that the officer shouldn't have told me I had a few days and they had no choice but to inform the 24 hour rule.

Here are my issues:

1. The officer shouldn't have done the paper-work. If he would have just told me to get it fixed, there would be no problem.
2. The officer shouldn't have mis-informed me about how many days I had to fix it.
3. The town should answer their stupid phone
4. The 24 hour rule is ridiculous. Am I supposed to take a day off work to get it fixed and have someone sign off on it?
5. A $25 penalty is reasonable, I suppose, but a $50 filing fee? Give me a break.

My only other option is to change my plea to not guilty (as if my light wasn't out?!?) and go to court to fight the penalty. This involves 2 trips to the Alabama town court, a likely court fee, and the possibility that I still won't win the case. So it's another example of the corruption of our government. The citizen loses no matter what option he chooses. He either wastes a bunch of his time, a bunch of his money, or both.

I will pay the $75 dollars, but I will place curses on the money.


Aaron Perry said...

I pled not-guilty to something I did because the traffic system in New York is established that everyone plead not-guilty.

I hate laziness and sloppiness in gov't. I am sorry this happened to you.

Jecca said...

truly terrible. curse the money indeed!

Tammy Craig said...

You know, Matthew, the first time I ever got pulled over was because my back license plate light was out! I, and my two friends with me, were wicked scared, because it was 11pm, and we knew we hadn't done anything wrong. After a lot of drama (which is quite a funny story), I got a ticket. A $9 ticket!!!!! The officer told me I was lucky, because they had just changed the law, and I could have gotten, like, a $100 ticket! But the stupid thing was, I had to get the light fixed, go to the sheriff's office, pay $4 there and show them I had changed the light, then go downtown to the courthouse and pay $5! The sheriff's office didn't even come out to check and didn't make me pay. It was the stupidest thing in the world! The ticket probably cost more to make!!

All that to say, I understand your frustration...

Dena said...

Yes, I will also shake my fists at the sky with you!

Kris said...

I laughed out loud at the curses on the money bit.

I have some curses if you want to borrow any.

Aaron Perry said...

FYI: When I plead not guilty, an appointment was set up with the DA. It's called a pre-trial conference. They typically offer a lesser charge to which you can agree to plead guilty, saving the court's time with a trial.

hdurkee said...

Everyone that I know who goes to houghton always gets a ticket. Its like they have nothing better to do.

I got a speeding ticket in Corning and I plead "not guilty" but told everyone that I did it. It is set up weird.

Knowing how far you are, i would probably just pay the 75 and forget about it. However, I would write a letter to them still explaining the situation. Maybe they would refund it. Hey, you never know. New york lotto...ahem...just you never know.