Thursday, October 14, 2010

A break from travel adventures... to talk about my renewed faith in justice in our Nation's Capital!

There is justice in our Nation's Capital. Not in a particular state that touches it to the south (or maybe it's just the county in the state that touches it to the south, which also has a famous cemetery named after it,...that has no justice).

I have lived in this such county for just over one year. Just 13 months! And, my faith in their police force and
judiciary system is absolutely zero. I had heard some horror stories before moving into the county, but disregarded them because I am "special" (!!!) and I live in the United States of America where everyone is treated with respect and dignity and where justice is served fairly!

Well, BOY was I wrong! My first complaint is with their police force that sit and wait like a tiger that hasn't eaten in a month. I have received three traffic violations in less than 1 year! One was given justly as I was speeding because I was running late. The other two, however, were not.

One of them was for going 35 in a 25 school zone. Well, I WOULD have gone 25 if the sign had not been hidden behind a TREE! And the officer that pulled me over must have been having a bad day because I ended up filing a complaint to his director because of the manner in which he treated me for this minor offense... I obviously hadn't just killed someone or
threatened this officer with a gun. He needed to chill out. Fortunately, my complaint was reviewed and I agreed to dismiss it in the end, but I wanted him to know that just because he has power and authority over the normal everyday citizen, he CAN NOT treat people that way.

The other ticket was for not stopping at a stop sign, but I LITERALLY stopped long enough to let a pedestrian cross if he wanted to and since he didn't, I turned and got pulled over for NOT STOPPING! Ha. No, it wasn't for not stopping for long enough, just NOT stopping at all! This
infuriated me. I feel like these police officers are desperate for violations, so they just pull over any individual after waiting long enough for someone to make an infraction. I asked for a trial for both of these. I literally took pictures of how badly the tree was hidden for the first one, printed them out and brought them. The judge was rude and obviously not happy to be there. He didn't even look at the pictures, asked the officer what had happened, and cut me short while I was giving my explanation.

SO, not only did I have to pay it, I HAD TO PAY an extra $20 or $30 for the
PRIVILEGE of asking for a hearing! Ha, I couldn't believe it and that's where my faith in the system here started to dwindle last fall.

When I got the other ticket last spring, I again thought it was totally unfair and it was my word against the officer. But, I thought a fair judge would at least let me explain my side and possibly cut the ticket in half... anything... something! Well, yet again, they always side with the officer even when they're not telling the truth. I was CRUSHED. What country did I live in again?? And, yet again, I pd the fee just for the
PRIVILEGE of listening to the officer lie.

Lesson learned: NEVER appeal a ticket in said county to south of DC unless you want to pay even more money and lose your faith in our judiciary system.

BUT, my faith was restored in our Nation's Capital judiciary system! For the past couple of months, I have had terrible car luck. Long story short, my car had to have major repairs done, including one part that needed to be mailed to MA and fixed and returned! It took 2 whole weeks! But... going back to the end of July/early August. I had recently registered my car is Virginia. At that time, they told me my emissions sticker was good for one more year. Not knowing anything about cars, I thought, GREAT. I am all set. It's registered with new
license plates and all stickers are still valid.

I left on my fabulous vacation to Alaska and Seattle ad upon my return found a ticket on my car for having an expired safety sticker. Who knew there were two different inspection stickers? Not me! Well, because of the issues my car was having, I knew it wouldn't pass inspection and I only had 1.5 days before leaving for Nantucket for two weeks. What do I do with my car?? It can't stay on the street! Well, before I figured this out, I decided it was OK to park it on this residential street in DC because cops NEVER
parole those streets! The family I was now working for agreed with me and thought it was safe as well. Or, so we thought. After my first day of work, I found I had a ticket on it! UGH!

The next day I drove and tried to park in the driveway, but there were some problems with that, so the family told me they would pay for my ticket if I got another one. They were sure I wouldn't get one two days in a row... BUT, low and behold, I DID! UGH!!! Fortunately, this one they paid for.

I kept putting off paying this ticket because I thought I had 60 days to pay it. Well, if you read the fine print, after 30 days, the ticket doubles! Now it was $100!! I decided I would go in and ask for a walk-in hearing to see if I could plead my case and get some of it taken off. It was worth a try!

So, I left early in order to be the first one at the door.
Surprisingly traffic was incredibly light and there was someone pulling out from a parking spot right in front of the building when I arrived!! Luck was on my side. I got there very early and had to wait outside before they even started sending people through security. Through a series of "luck" and "being at the right place at the right time", I was also then able to be moved to the front of the hearings and got the very first hearing of the day!!!!

I went into this room with the hearing officer and one other person appealing her ticket. This officer was very nice, explained what would happen, answered our questions, etc. I liked him so much better than the others! He was very formal, but that's expected as well. It's not my personal friend I am going to plead my ticket with!!

It was an interesting experience and I liked it much better than my previous experiences. It's just you and the officer talking. He's writing in the computer what you say, you show him any supporting documents, give your plea, etc. He listened to my explanation and never cut me off. I waited while he kept typing.
Finally, he said he was DISMISSING the ticket because one ticket had already been paid and I had gotten the safety sticker on my car!! WAHOOO!!!

I felt so lucky and grateful!! And, even if I had lost, DC
doesn't have an extra 30 something dollar fee just because you have the privilege of coming in to talk to a hearing officer. Wish my county in Virginia would learn something from its nation's capital :) They know how to be just, fair, and how to treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve even if they don't have the same power and authority that you do!

1 comment:

Maylene said...

The first part sounds SO frustrating! I hate things like that and sometimes it just ends up being your story versus theirs.