Copy Story 1: Cutting through my own parking lot

The year was 1987, and I was living in my own apartment at the age of 17. The apartment complex that I lived in was right around the corner to the high school I was going to at the time. In fact, at the time this story takes place, the road the apartment complex was on curved around to be the same road the school was on, less than half a mile away. This was very convenient for me, as I could be in class within 10 minutes after I woke up (20 minutes if I took a shower).

This one particular day, I woke up, got into my car, and pulled out of my apartment complex parking lot. The plan was to drive the half mile from my apartment to the school parking lot, but as soon as I pulled out of my apartment I got pulled over by a police officer. I wasn't sure exactly what I had done wrong. As the officer walked up to my car to ask for my drivers license and insurance, the only thing I could think of is that maybe the square black and white sign between the driveway of the apartment parking lot and the street was considered a "real" stop sign, and that I hadn't come to a complete stop. I gave him my license as requested, and he walked back to his car. He didn't ask me if I knew what I did wrong, and he didn't tell me what I did wrong, but I could see through my mirror that he was writing away at something on his clip board. After a couple of minutes, he started walking back towards me, and when he got close enough I asked him what I had done wrong. He replied that I had "cut through that parking lot" motioning to the parking lot of my apartment complex.

It is true that students would cut through my apartment parking lot to avoid the traffic and get to school quicker, but I wasn't cutting through - I lived there. I told him that I didn't cut through the parking lot, and he snapped back "I saw you!" as he leaned down through my open window to look me in the eye. I politely explained, "But, sir ... I live there. The address on the drivers license attached to your clipboard is the address of that apartment complex that I pulled out of." He glared at me and then studied my drivers license for several seconds. He then looked back at me and said, "Huh. Well, tell it to the judge" as he finished filling out the last couple of lines on the ticket and had me sign it.

I was still pretty young at this point, and I was pretty new at getting traffic tickets. I had gotten 1 or 2 before this, but I knew I deserved those and I simply paid them. This ticket was not deserved, and I wanted to contest it. The officer had filled in a portion at the bottom of the ticket that said when and where I had to be to go to court.

Six weeks later when the date arrived, I went to the courthouse instead of school to contest my bogus ticket. When I got there (right on time), I asked around to find out where I needed to go. Of course the longest line is where I was supposed to be. So I waited, and after about an hour, I was at the front of the line. I told the lady at the window that I wanted to contest the ticket, and she handed me some paperwork to fill out. I asked her why I couldn't contest it now, and she said that this was an arraignment and all she could to was take my money if I wanted to pay the ticket and if I wanted to fight it I had to come back. "I could have paid it weeks ago like my previous tickets" I thought to myself. But I filled out my paperwork and gave it back to her.

A few weeks later I got something in the mail telling me to come to court in a couple months. By this time it was summer and I was working full-time. I took half of a day off work to come to the courthouse again. I waited in line again. I talked to a lady behind a window again, and she had me fill out more paperwork. I told her I just wanted to contest the ticket, and asked her why I couldn't do it now. She told me that all she could do was take my money if I wanted to plead guilty, sign me up for defensive driving, or take my plea if I wanted to fight it. So I gave my plea, filled out more paperwork and went home.

I got more papers in the mail and came back a couple of months later. This time I was actually in a court room with a bunch of other people. After waiting over an hour, they finally called me. I talked to a guy and I explained my situation. I showed him my drivers license proving that I lived at the apartment complex I was accused of cutting through. He said he felt bad for me, but he was just an assistant district attorney and even though he could see that I was not guilty, he didn't have the authority to dismiss the charge. He said he could reduce the fine to $5.00, but if I wanted it off my record I would have to fill out more paperwork and come back again to talk to the judge.

I had had enough at that point so I paid my $5.00 and left. But it really pissed me off that I had been tardy to a class, missed 2 classes, taken 2 half-days off work, had to pay a fine and this bogus ticket was still going to end up on my record.

Back to Stories Back to Home