Way back in August, I wrote about an incident involving some members of my club’s B ride who were ticketed for not stopping at a red light before making a right turn.
We were stunned to find that the fine for such a violation is $217. That struck most of us as excessive. The question became, what to do about it?
(BTW, I was not one of the ticketed riders. The incident happened while I was away on vacation.)
Two of the riders decided to simply pay the fine and avoid the hassle. A third, Judy, also planned to pay the fine, but because of an illegible date written on the ticket, discovered that she was overdue, and the fine had gone up to $275!
That’s a lot of money, so Judy requested a court date. In a municipal court situation like this, the options are to pay your fine, request a jury trial, or appear before a judge. Judy sat down with a prosecutor and played “Let’s Make a Deal.” She got a reduced fine of $150. (Traffic violations are dropped from your record if you don’t have another one within three months, but biking violations don’t appear on your driving record anyway.)
Pippa had to get a later court date, because she had to travel back home to the UK for a few weeks. When she did appear in court, she had a similar experience as Judy. But Pippa balked at the $150 fine. Can’t you do any better? she asked the prosecutor. It turned out that if she agreed to 10 hours of community service, he would reduce the fine to $111.
“Does the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center qualify for community service?” asked Pippa. The prosecutor flipped through a listing, and confirmed that it does.
“Perfect,” said Pippa. “I volunteer there anyway.” So Pippa wound up paying the least amount, and didn’t add work to what she was already doing.
The moral of the story: If you’re ever ticketed for a biking violation, request a court date. It’ll cost you less in the long run.