Sunday, August 10, 2008

Traffic Court

I recently attended traffic court in Silver Spring. Fascinating experience.

About fifty people go into a courtroom, and wait for the judge to come in. The judge then starts ripping through his docket, seeing if the appropriate parties are present. You can either plead innocent, or guilty with an explanation. Either way, it appears that if you go "trial", the longest of which was five minutes, you have to pay court costs of $22.50. If both the defendant and the police are there, there's a little trial. In most cases, someone didn't show. It seemed like the judge was willing to knock down the points or severity, if someone had gone to the trouble to show up, and sounded credible/sincere, and the responding officer didn't point out that say, the gentleman claiming a clean record, had actually put six other points on his license since the traffic stop. The most interesting moment, was two parties who both showed up regarding a wreck at 3:30am on a rainy night, where it was clear, someone ran a red light, but it was also equally unclear who it was. It seemed like they were bent on disputing the traffic ticket, but more importantly, putting on their side of the case for a civil suit that was going on.

Also interesting, ties goes to the police. If no one shows, it's a "failure to appear", with whatever consequences that entails.
How'd I do? Well, I was going to plead innocent, had pictures of the intersection ready to show, but no officer showed. A bit of a letdown, in spite of the good result, with no dramatic moment in court to show for it :)

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