I mean a WHOLE lot more.
You figure if I average 1200 tickets a year (some of you are going to want to compare…don’t do that…don’t be that guy…I’m sure your stack is impressive…if you want to show it off, start your own blog…wait, what was I talking about?) I’m bound to go to traffic court from time to time, right?
I don’t have the actual numbers, but I’m gonna guess I go to traffic court on less than 10% of the cites I write. I’ve been a motor for well over eight years, but let’s use eight as our barometer.
Let’s assume I go to traffic court 100 times a year. In eight years, that’s 9,600 tickets issued (on average) and I’m in traffic court 800 times. That equates to 8.33% of the time I issue a ticket, I’ll end up seeing that person’s smiling face again in traffic court.
Of those 9,600 tickets, 8,800 folks decided to take responsibility (more or less). That means my batting average when I issue a citation is about 0.917.
91.7% of the time, when I issue a citation, the driver decides not to fight it, but acquiesces to my crushing of their soul.
Of the 800 people I’ve gone to traffic court on, I’ve seldom lost a case. Like count-on-one-hand-type numbers. The exceptions are if I can’t find my copy of the cite (with my notes) and I dismiss or there is a temporary judge that doesn’t know shit from Shinola (google it) and finds the person not guilty.
This was one of those cases I lost.
There are certain things I get about why people take us to traffic court. Hell, it’s an easy win if the cop is a no-show (burden of proof is on the State, so if there’s no officer, there’s no proof). Most of the time, though, the defendant ends up being a true believer and thinks they were just getting the metaphorical shaft from the Man.
One citation that I never understand fighting, though? Seat belts.
A) You’re an idiot if you don’t wear one (that includes cops, by the way).
B) You can’t “kinda” wear a seat belt. It’s either on properly or it isn’t.
I testified in court that I saw the defendant not wearing the seat belt. The defendant was wearing a blue shirt. I saw the belt against the seat (an indication it was on under the arm…still a violation). I saw little angle off the B-pillar (the part of the car from which a seat belt typically hangs). We passed one another less than ten feet away. When I stopped the defendant, the seat belt was magically being worn appropriately (that’s called a clue).
And then I testified the belt was tan.
The defendant swore it was black.
In an unprecedented move I have never before witnessed, the judge told us to go take a photo of it. Before he did, though, he asked the defendant what color the car was. The answer? Tan or gray.
Um….how many of you know the color of your seat belt but not the color of your freaking car?!
I went out with the defendant and took a gander at the seat belt.
Dammit if that sumbitch wasn’t dark. (It wasn’t black, but it wasn’t tan either).
Looks like I made a mistake in my notes.
The defendant took a photo and we returned to the court room. The defendant showed the picture. The judge looked at it. Turned it. Looked at it. Turned it. Asked what color the seats were. Turned it.
Then he said, “I can’t tell what color that is, but I’m going to find you not guilty even though I’m pretty sure a violation did, in fact, occur.”
So, I lost.
It happens. If you think of it this way, I’m still batting something like 0.994.
That ain’t bad.
Besides which, during the initial stop the defendant told me we’d met before and I had previously issued a citation for the same violation and they fought it in court.
“Is that right?” I said, “Who won?”
The defendant replied, “Me.” (I assume I was on vacation and the cite was dismissed as I can’t recall losing a seat belt ticket before.)
Now there is one smug defendant rolling around out there. One whom I am sure to meet again. Now that they’re all confident and what not.
On the other hand, I stopped a dude on the way back from court for not wearing his seat belt, so, you know…