I had the pleasure of getting a speeding ticket recently on my way to work one morning. I was driving down the street while listening to the Rickey Smiley morning show on the radio and they caught me driving a few miles over the speed limit. With all the people whizzing pass me, I was surprised he pulled me over. It’s not like I was weaving through traffic in reverse like Puff & Biggie on the Hypnotize video.
To make matters worse, I got pulled over right across the street from my office. The cop was hiding in the bushes like the dude from cheaters in that black van.
So not only am I getting a ticket, but I got everybody turning into my office building pointing at me and being nosy. I just knew as soon as I got to my desk, my computer was going to be flooded with emails from my co-workers wanting to know what happened.
Surprisingly, the Cop was pretty cool, but I could tell he was happy to fill his quota. He had me feeling like Smokey on Friday trying to lie to Big Worm.
I figured since the cop was a “brutha,” I could make small talk and get away with a warning….He should understand my struggle as a poor black man trying to make it in America right?? NOT! He wrote the ticket from his patrol car so he would not have to holla at me; then he drove off. I was so mad; I just turned my car off and walked a couple of hundred feet to my office.
The cop did tell me that I could go to court and contest it, but I was like, “for what?” He clocked me on radar. I already knew I was guilty. Besides, you know black folk don’t do well in court! Why set myself up?
On the other hand, the points and the fine were too much to endure on my driving record and my pockets. I had to try to do something.
So, to get my fine reduced and some points taken away, I decided to go to court to plead my case. I was gonna get my People’s Court on. (LOL)
If you have never been to court before, it is both a very entertaining and humbling experience. It was like watching your drunken uncle tell a story. I can understand now why people watch all those Judge shows like Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown and Judge Mathis.
My appointment wasn’t until 2:30, but I got there early to avoid any foolishness. The last thing I wanted to do was be late. So as I sat there, I got to witness other peoples’ cases. This was probably the best decision I made all year.
The judge was slaying people left and right. He was slicing them like King Leonidas from 300. No excuse went unchallenged and no clown went unembarrassed. The stories I heard were both amazing and amazingly dumb. Just when you thought you heard it all, you heard somebody say something more asinine than the person who testified before them. The hardest part is not laughing out loud when you hear it.
Why in the hell would somebody come to court and lie about their driving record under oath? Do they not know that their traffic record is in front of the judge as he tries your case?
By the time my name was called to take the stand, I just went in front the judge and just told the truth. I just walked up and said, “Guilty your honor. I made a mistake.” I braced myself for the verdict, like in the Color Purple when Cielie made Shug Avery that breakfast after Mister tried to serve her some burnt food.
Without going into the legal details, I can honestly say that I made out alright. It was definitely worth showing up.
If you ever have to go to traffic court and you want to make it out with your driving privileges and freedom in tact. Follow these rules:
6 Rules to Follow in Traffic Court:
1. For the duration of your visit, treat the Judge like he is God – These judges sometimes have egos (Not the one I had of course). Never challenge a person with the power to take your freedom with a wooden hammer. They’ll rip you apart to make an example out of you.
2. Accept responsibility for your violation – Do not make up excuses about what happened. Unless you died, plead guilty and pray for a miracle.
3. Don’t lie about nothing…Period
4. Always reply, “Your Honor.” (This kind of goes with rule #1.)
5. Have the cash to pay your fine. You want to end this scenario as soon as possible. Pay the fine and close the case.
6. Don’t talk to other people about your driving record in court. They will throw you under the bus to save themselves.