As some of you know, I got in an accident on Labor Day. I even wrote a blog about it. Well, as you may or may not know, I didn't have my most recent insurance card in the car at the time of the accident. Because of that little lapse of judgment, I had an automatic court date. I went down on Wednesday, and in true Garrett fashion, I arrived insanely early. (I hate to be late to things, especially if I've never been to the place or if my presence is required right at a certain hour. I arrived 45 minutes early to the interview for my current job, for example.)
Being early as I was, I was told to wait in the court room. This meant that I got to sit in and listen to other law-breakers like myself plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charges against them. I also found out that this was a Hearing only, and the judge couldn't listen to any facts to make a decision, but could only answer our questions if we had any about the charges against us.
So I sat there and listened to what everyone else had done, and even without the gavel and robe made my own judgments. Not on sentencing or anything like that, just on their character, which I think might be more dangerous. Then I realized I'm in this boat, too, so I'd best change my attitude and observe. One woman was doing 42 in a school zone. One kid had quite a talk with the judge, and will have to bring in his grades as part of his plea bargain, and will need to maintain a 3.0 average. His mom thinks he can do better than that, but said she didn't want to push it. I don't even remember what he did, but I was intrigued by the whole thing. One guy was doing 94 in a 50 zone, to which he pleaded guilty. My favorite, though, was two guys that were charged with exhibition-style racing, which is a class C misdemeanor. The crazy part about that is that driving without insurance is a class B misdemeanor. So, me forgetting to put my most recent insurance card in the glove box is apparently more severe a crime than people who endanger the lives of their fellow citizens by racing on city streets. I know I said I wouldn't judge, but in my opinion, that is RIDICULOUS.
I also got to hear other people charged with not having current insurance. They all kept pleading guilty, even a few that showed they now had insurance. I kept wondering what I would do. I brought my most recent insurance card in, but that didn't show that I was insured at the time of the accident, so I also had with me a copy of the insurance card for that time period. I didn't want them to think there was ever a lapse in my insurance, that I am a regular old law abiding citizen who happened to be in a freak accident. I kept thinking of every Law and Order, CSI, and even every Matlock episode I'd ever seen, and I was convinced there were times when people had the charges dropped in the hearing before it ever went to trial. I didn't want to just blindly plead guilty like everyone in front of me. Do you know what the fine is for not having valid insurance? 400 bucks. Yeah...
So when my turn came up, the judge read my charges and asked if I had any questions. I sure did, and asked if I could show that I had insurance at the time of the accident, could the charges be dropped. The judges response: "Absolutely." So I gave the bailiff my insurance cards, and he brought them to the judge (in true People's Court fashion, the bailiff was a very old guy who looked a little like Barney from The Andy Griffith show) who then told me that the charges could be dropped, and because that was the only charge that made me have to come to court, I could plead no contest to the other charges, pay the minimal accident fee, and be on my way. So that's what I did.
I was there from 2:30 to 4:00 and it was a huge waste of time, but at least I didn't have to pay $400 extra. I don't know about the rest of you, but going to court is quite an intimidating experience, and I really don't want to ever do it again...
books read in 2015
1 year ago