This Time I Really Messed Up

Cop LightsThere’s no two ways about it… This time I really messed up.

It’s probably not wise of me to admit to what happened, but then again, what’s done is done and it happens to be true.

I got pulled over this morning on Autoroute Ville-Marie for speeding. I’m not denying that I was speeding nor am I denying that I tend to drive fast. However, what I’m pissed off about is that I don’t believe I was going as fast as the officer claimed. In fact, I think I’m being accused of going 20 km/h (12 mph) faster than I think I was.

The official speed limit on the Ville-Marie, like on other urban freeways in Montréal, is 70 km/h (about 45 mph). Not that it matters, but no one respects that speed. In fact, I’d say that if one follows the flow in order not to get plowed down by others, the average speed is between 80 to 100 km/h (about 50 to 60 mph).

That said, I admit I was going faster than that, which places me in the wrong no matter how I look at it. The problem is that the officer’s assessment of my speed makes the difference between “speeding” and “excessive speeding,” which means not only a much heftier fine but also a shitload more demerit points.

However, does ANYONE have the time and energy to contest something like this? How can I be sure that he clocked my car and not another one nearby? I very respectfully asked the officer that question. I wasn’t denying that I was speeding but not to the extent he claimed …but how could I prove that? He snidely responded that he’s a professional who does this job every day and it was unlikely that he’s wrong (as if no human, including cops, ever make mistakes), but I can take it to court.

The damage? A few bucks over $1,000 and 14 demerit points. But wait! It gets worse.

Unbeknownst to me, my driver’s license wasn’t paid for!

Now you’re probably thinking, “Come on, Maurice! How can you not know that?” But I honestly thought that the amount I paid on time last August was meant to cover everything: car registration including public insurance AND permit renewal. However, the officer informed me that my permit has been invalid since my birthday …in 2009!

More than two years !!!

Fortunately, the fine is the same whether it’s one week or more than two years late: $444 including fees. But I think you’re getting the picture that my normally $7 breakfast at the Resto du Village ended up costing me a king’s ransom.

Okay. Now here’s something I didn’t blog about because I was too embarrassed when it happened. But now I’m writing about it to explain why I’m just going to take my lumps and move along.

I got pulled over early last January. Long story short: that officer cited me for not respecting a highway sign on the grounds that he, too, was going too fast. That incident happened before I admitted to myself that I was in the throes of “Depression Light” and, when I did admit to it, the ticket sat there, unpaid. Then, on that hot summer morning just hours before my first appointment with Lucy, someone knocked on my door: it was a man I described to friends and Lucy as the size and build of a fridge but known in fact as a bailiff, coming to arrest me unless I paid that fine right then and there.

Let’s just say that I successfully pleaded with him not to put the handcuffs on me (although he was all horny to do so) as we went to the nearest branch of my bank so that I could pay him cash. And in the following days, I uncovered an unpaid parking ticket I had left on a desk the night I got it and paid it online, as the threat of being arrested was one experience I didn’t ever want to experience again.

Obviously I can’t and won’t contest the ticket about the permit even though I swear I never got a notice to renew. Even at my lowest point, I knew what I would get in the mail; I just chose to ignore it. Even more obviously, though, is that I won’t be moving the car an inch until my permit is renewed. Until then, it’s the metro for me.

However, it pisses me off feeling I don’t believe I have a leg to stand on to argue against the severity of the speeding ticket. I’m told (although I won’t tell you by who) that I could show up in court and plead. But from what I’ve been told and what I’ve read, it wouldn’t be worth the stress and the time off work.

So while I really, really hate feeling cornered like this, I’m choosing to simply pay. And although I have 30 days to plead, the cheques will be in the mail by Friday. Then I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, curse a little, and move on …more slowly.