Well folks. I paid my first bicycle traffic ticket for cutting a red light in New York City. Here’s what happened.
I got to the violations bureau early in the hopes of seeing other cases so I would be able to defend myself. I checked the “board” to see what time my hearing was scheduled and was quickly approached by some young girl in tight pants and high heals. She started talking to me really sweetly and coming onto me like I was her boyfriend. Seriously. I though this was my lucky day! Get this folks. The girl then asks to look at my ticket and tells me she has a lawyer who would represent me for $120.00 dollars.
I’m now starting to get a stinking feeling what this is all about. Needless to say, I give her the money and she takes me to a room where I meet this “lawyer” and he assures me he can get the ticket off and I don’t even need to be there! Furthermore, I’m told “don’t say a word and he would do all the talking”.
Well I decided to stick around and see the action. Believe it or not, I was the one ticked who bothered to stay around. Once you paid these “lawyers” you could just walk out and go home! In the end, I was really saddened and depressed at how our traffic violations bureau system works. The system is NOT about justice and fairness, as people would think. There were people in the waiting room with 15 points but were still able to drive as the lawyers knew whom the “right” judges were to keep them from getting their licenses suspended. Others were being told by these “lawyers” NOT to pay the ticket and ask for a extension to get a better judge who would let them slide! Most of the people in the waiting room looked like they were down to their last dollar while paying these “lawyers” were walking around with a wallet full of tens and twenties making money off other peoples misery. It was like I was walking into a drug den but it was the lawyers who were walking around with and waving the cash. In fact, when I asked this lawyer if I could pay him by credit card, his assistant (hot looking girl) rubbed up against me and said “We would really prefer cash”. That just goes to show you how sleazy the whole thing is folks. I can go on an on but it’s really a travesty.
Look. I was guilty. I would have paid the fine and pleaded guilty. But the traffic fines in New York City are ridiculously high and they are designed this way to extract as much money from the motorists as possible. It’s not about fairness at all. I forgot the exact amount but collections from traffic violations are in the city of New York is the hundreds of millions and used pay for police and firemen. As a result, the cyclist gets caught up in this whole scam and the only way out is pay one of these lawyers. The fine would have been $130.00 dollars, which includes court costs, three points on my license, and a surcharge of $30.00. That surcharge needs to be paid for four years and my insurance company would have been notified of the infraction that would mean a higher premium the following year. Overall, I estimate that traffic ticket would have cost me over $1,000.00 dollars between the fine, surcharge and higher insurance.
During the court proceedings, the judge who was in shorts and a wacky tie was laughing at the police as they presented their cases. The lawyers and court assistants were also laughing to the extent at how the patrol officers had to go to get a conviction. It was insane.
My case never went that far as my patrol officer simply met with my lawyer outside the court room and walked away. The whole thing was dismissed in ten seconds.
I don’t know if I should be happy or sad about what happened today. It doesn’t surprise me why cyclists are killed and no one is punished. It doesn’t surprise me why drivers with multiple suspensions are still driving. The rules of the road are the following. THERE ARE NO RULES. It’s every man and woman for themselves and if that driver behind wants to take you out. He can.
A lawyer will be there at the proceedings to make sure he doesn’t even pay the fine.
Wear those helmets folks.