Traffic court and winter pictures -- 02/25/08

Rhode Island has a provision in its motor vehicle law that they call the Good Driver Statute. Essentially, it says that a driver who has not had a serious moving violation for a three year period is considered to be a Good Driver. (A speeding ticket would take you out of good driver status but something minor like a defective tail light would not.) If a Good Driver gets a ticket for a moving violation (but not drunk driving, not reckless driving, not something outrageous like 100 mph in a school zone) they can request that their fine be waived under the Good Driver Statute. Of course, that does count as a guilty plea and is recorded as a conviction, but will generally save you between seventy-five and a hundred bucks.

Note to readers outside the U.S. -- Never having received a traffic ticket outside of the U.S., I have no experience with your systems -- although I did come close once -- but in most jurisdictions here, when you get a traffic ticket you generally have choice of pleading guilty and mailing it in with the listed fine or showing up in court to plead "not guilty" and be assigned a court date for a trial. (I don't know if they still do it, but some southern states -- especially Georgia -- used to be infamous for setting up speed traps to catch northern tourists heading for Florida vacations. You could pay a fine right then or go to jail while waiting for a trail.)

The only time I've received a ticket since moving to Rhode Island I knew nothing about this Good Driver stuff, so I just mailed in my fine.

Last month Jill got a speeding ticket (25 mph in a 20 mph zone). She was going to just mail in the fine but I told her that since it had been more than three years since her last ticket, she was eligible to request that the fine be waived. She asked me to come to court with her...

Today was her court date.

I couldn't believe how many people were there. People were lined up outside the building (and we were there before the opening time). Apparently some people had been confused about President's Day last Monday. It was a federal holiday -- no postal service -- but it was not a Rhode Island holiday -- traffic court had been held, but at least a hundred people came today instead of last Monday. The line to get into the court room, however, moved fairly quickly -- despite the need to go through a metal detector.

We spent two hours in court before Jill's case was called. Her case took less than thirty seconds. Good Driver. Okay. No fine. Pay twenty-five dollars court cost.

The line of people waiting to pay trailed from the court clerk's office all the way down the hallway and around a corner. It took another hour for Jill to work her way to the office so she could pay the $25 court cost.

Ah well.... she did save the $85.00 fine.

Three snow pictures:

I thought the snow on my hammock in the backyard made an interesting pattern. (Yes, I know, I probably should take the hammock down and store it inside for winter.)

Bright sunlight through winter trees...

Snow and ice on the leaves of a rhododendron.

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