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Speeding Your Way Into A Petty Dispute

, , , , , , , , | Legal | December 11, 2021

One summer, a friend of mine is going to the Jersey shore one day with his family and is driving along a highway that New Jersey state police are well known to patrol heavily. He makes sure to do the speed limit. Sure enough, a state police cruiser does eventually end up behind him. My friend thinks nothing of it. After a mile with the state cop behind him, a sports car suddenly passes on the left, doing at least ninety. The state cop lights up, of course, and my friend pulls over to let the cruiser pass. To his shock, however, the cruiser pulls over behind him instead, and after a short discussion, the officer hands my friend a ticket for speeding.

My friend fights the ticket, but despite his dashcam footage proving he was doing the limit the whole time and the officer even admitting my friend was doing the speed limit, the court sides with the officer and forces my friend to pay the speeding fine. Naturally, he is frustrated at first, but he then decides that if the State of New Jersey is going to be petty, then so is he. When he writes the check to pay the fine and court costs, he writes it for exactly two cents more than the total amount of the fine.

A month later, my friend receives a check in the mail from the State of New Jersey… for two cents. He gleefully puts the check through the shredder, knowing that the state’s checkbooks are going to no longer be balanced — or at least further unbalanced since other drivers have undoubtedly overpaid the state before him. He has also started taking a different, less heavily-patrolled highway to the shore, and hasn’t gotten another ticket since. The state continues to send him two-cent checks, which continue to go right through my friend’s shredder until the state stops sending them about a year later.

The Cop Car Needs An Ambulance And The Lieutenant Needs To Chill

, , , , , , , | Legal | November 19, 2021

I used to volunteer with my township’s all-volunteer first aid squad. For overnight calls from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am, we responded by pager from our homes. I had a quick five-minute drive to the squad building where I picked up an ambulance and a partner before heading to a call for help.

One morning at 3:00 am, my pager sounded with a call for CPR in progress. I drove quickly (but safely) to the squad building and then headed by ambulance with my partner to the home of the patient. There was an extra sense of urgency due to the nature of the call, but I drove safely and legally.

Upon arrival at the house, I noticed a police car parked on the street in front of the house; it was standard practice in the town for police to respond to every first aid call. My intention was to pull in front of the police car and park along the curb. I slowed and started the maneuver. All of a sudden, I heard a loud crunch and scraping and felt the ambulance rock. I had hit the police car!

I pulled up and parked. There was nothing to do about the accident right then. We had a patient to attend to. As we entered the house with our equipment, however, the police informed us that the patient had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order so CPR had never actually been started. We had to wrap up some paperwork issues and were soon ready to leave. It was then that I approached the officer.

Me: “Hey, [Officer], I hate to have to tell you this. I hit your police car. I’m so sorry. It’s pretty bad.”

The officer and I went out to look. I had heavily damaged the front driver’s side of the vehicle. The tire was pointed perpendicular to the car and the fender was completely smashed in. The ambulance had a gouge down the back half of the passenger side. The scene was a mess.

Officer: “All right, accidents happen. I’ll call my lieutenant and we’ll make an accident report.”

Me: “I can’t believe I did this. I’m so very sorry. I’ve been a member of [Squad] for thirteen years. I’ve been driving for twenty-eight years and I’ve never been in an accident where I was at fault.”

The lieutenant on duty arrived and I explained what happened as best I could. To this day, I still don’t really know how I did it. Obviously, I was too close. But it didn’t seem that way to me as I was pulling in. It shook my confidence in driving. I was very embarrassed.

I was too shaken up to go to work that day, so I took the day off. Somewhere around mid-morning, my doorbell rang. It was the lieutenant.

Lieutenant: “Hi, [My Name]. I had to issue this ticket to you for careless driving. I’m required to do so for insurance purposes.”

Me: “No, you’re not. I’m a licensed insurance agent. I deal with claims all the time. There isn’t an insurance company in the state that requires a ticket to be issued in order to pay on a claim.”

Lieutenant: “Well, it’s been written. Here you go.”

I was angry. I knew the ticket involved points on my license and would cause my insurance premium to rise. I knew the lieutenant only by sight, as he didn’t answer first aid calls. He certainly didn’t know me, but he must have looked up my driving record and seen that I didn’t have any at-fault accidents and not even as much as a parking ticket in my life.

A few days later, at the scene of another first aid call, the responding sergeant approached me.

Sergeant: “Hey, [My Name], I heard about what happened. Did [Lieutenant] actually issue you a ticket for careless driving?”

Me: “Yes, he did.”

Sergeant: “That’s bulls***. The whole department is talking about it and we all agree. Do you have a court date?”

Me: “Yes, it’s scheduled for [date and time].”

Sergeant: “Great, I’m on duty that date. Here, take my cell number. When you go, speak to the district attorney. I know him. Tell him I want to talk to him.”

Me: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.”

On the day of court, I arrived and got in line to speak with the DA. I explained the circumstances of the accident. I also gave him [Sergeant]’s phone number and told him that [Sergeant] wanted to speak with him.

DA: “Wait a minute. Let me get this right. You were volunteering your time in the middle of the night for the first aid squad when this happened? And [Lieutenant] still issued you a ticket?”

Me: “Yes.”

DA: “How fast were you going at the time?”

Me: “Well, I was on a residential street and I was pulling in to park along the curb. I couldn’t have been going any faster than five miles per hour.”

DA: “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I don’t even need to speak with [Sergeant]. You don’t deserve a careless driving charge on your record. I’m lowering the charge to impeding the flow of traffic. It’s a no-point ticket and the fine is only [low amount] instead of [much higher amount]. And I’m going to talk to [Police Chief]. He’ll have a chat with [Lieutenant].”

Me: “Thank you so much!”

And so it was. I plead guilty to the lower charge and paid the small fine. I was an apprehensive driver for some time after that. Since I didn’t know exactly what I had done wrong in causing the accident, I didn’t know what it was that I should be doing differently. Luckily, it’s now ten years later, and I haven’t had any at-fault mishaps.

Wow. A Rude Customer Finally Did it.

, , , , , , | Legal | October 20, 2021

My dad was a sheriff’s deputy, and part of his job was to provide security in a courtroom. This included small claim lawsuits.

He would tell me about some of the most ridiculous lawsuits he would stand by and hear while trying to maintain a straight face, such as one idiot who sued his former boss. One day, after getting chewed out by said boss, he dreamed that he’d gotten into a fistfight with him and punched himself in the mouth in his sleep, knocking out a tooth. He thought his boss should pay his dental bill. I’ll let you guess how THAT one went.

However, the most notable lawsuit was this huge, burly oaf who seemed physically incapable of speaking without shouting. He sued (the parents of) a poor, terrified sixteen-year-old girl because she’d mistakenly shortchanged him $20 in a supermarket during a long, tiring shift. The store manager, who’d been brought in as a witness, testified that the man — who unsurprisingly made a scene in front of everyone in the store berating her — was repaid immediately after the girl’s till was balanced and it was determined to have $20 extra. He then stood next to the girl, waving the bill in the air, yelling, “DON’T GO TO [GIRL]’s REGISTER! SHE’S A THIEF AND WILL RIP YOU OFF!” They ended up having to call security to put him out.

Judge: “Okay, you got your money back. Why are we here? And how does this equate to $3,000 in damages?”

Customer: “I’m here for theft and consumer fraud and breach of trust! I deserve $3,000 in punitive damages!”

The verdict? The judge ordered him to pay the court a $2,500 fine for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Meanwhile, the parents had countersued for $1,000 for mental distress caused on their daughter. The judge awarded them the maximum statutory limit of $3,000, adding that the parents should give it all to the girl.


This story is part of our Best Of October 2021 roundup!

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This Lesson Really Speeds

, , , , , , | Legal | October 18, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. Some years ago, we were sitting on our back porch having a cookout and talking. My husband mentioned that I had gotten my first ever speeding ticket at the ripe ol’ age of twenty-seven. My father-in-law looked surprised.

Father-In-Law: “Really, [My Name]? You’re usually such a good driver.”

Me: “Well, they just changed the speed limit on the road from fifty-five to thirty-five last week. I forgot and they clocked me doing fifty-seven. It’s my fault for not paying attention. I am not sure how this is going to work in court since I have never had a speeding ticket before.”

Husband: “I told her she should plead not guilty.” 

Me: “But that would be a lie. I am guilty. While it wasn’t on purpose, I was still breaking the law.”

Father-In-Law: “No, I agree. Tell the truth. Don’t lie; explain it. The judge might be in a good mood and give you a reduced fine.”

Husband: “Hey, Dad, tell her about your speeding ticket in Georgia.”

[Father-In-Law] told us about how he was going down a highway some years ago in Georgia when an officer pulled him over and gave him a ticket. [Father-In-Law] said he didn’t think he was going over the speed limit but it was kind of fascinating because the officer had a radar gun. This was in the 1980s when these were kind of new in rural areas. [Father-In-Law] had never seen one, and the officer was kind of proud of it and more than happy to show it off to my father-in-law.

When they went to court, [Father-In-Law] started noticing something interesting. The first five people called up were all clocked at sixty-seven mph by that cop on the same road on the same day.  

When they called [Father-In-Law] up:

Father-In-Law: “Your honor, I mean no disrespect, but before I enter a plea, I am asserting my right to see the evidence. I want to see this officer’s proof of training on this piece of equipment, as well as the paperwork of the last time it was calibrated.”

The judge was less than pleased.

Judge: “What makes you think you can demand any of that?!”

Father-In-Law: “Since none of you have noticed, the five defendants before me were all clocked doing sixty-seven. And so was I. I am curious about the cases after me. What were they clocked at?”

The judge immediately calmed down and asked the officer to look at his ticket book. The officer flipped through his book and, with amazement, proclaimed that all the tickets that day were for sixty-seven mph.

Judge: “I never noticed.” 

The judge sat back for a moment.

Judge: “I’ve hated those newfangled things since the day I saw them. I never thought they could be trusted. I’m glad I am retiring soon. Case dismissed.”

He then told his secretary that all tickets that day were dismissed and asked her to see if someone could catch the five previous defendants before they left the building. The officer did shake [Father-In-Law]’s hand, so there were no hard feelings.

As for me, I did plead guilty. The judge said I was the first person who ever plead guilty in front of him. He told me that as long as I kept my nose clean and had no more tickets for at least a year, I was good to go. I haven’t had a speeding ticket since and don’t plan to.

Related:
This Lesson Really Blows
This Lesson Really Bites
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings

We Want To Hear The Rest Of That Woman’s Story!

, , , , , | Legal | July 18, 2021

When I was fresh out of college, I got called up for jury duty. It was actually a pretty fascinating experience and I highly recommend it. Some of the people I served with, though, were… interesting.

We’d agreed on most of the fourteen or so criminal charges in the case, including two of the three counts of child endangerment. Now, we were discussing the final of those. One of the criteria we were told for being guilty of this particular charge was that the child had to feel endangered. The child in this case was a baby. All but one of us concluded that, due to the particular circumstances, the baby had no idea what was going on and thus didn’t feel endangered and thus the person wasn’t guilty of this particular charge.

The holdout was a woman from the Caribbean — I forget where precisely. I point this out only to explain the sentence structure of her argument since English was her second language or perhaps even third. This is how the argument went, verbatim.

Woman: “When I was in my country, one day, I try to feed my baby. He wouldn’t take the breast! Wouldn’t take the breast!” *Pauses* “Lightning come down, set fire to the house!”

The Rest Of Us: “…”

Woman: “…”

The Rest Of Us: “…”

Me: *Grasping at straws* “Um…okay, so… you’re saying that babies have some kind of sixth sense about what is going on around them, so this baby knew that the man was threatening him even though the baby’s mother wasn’t really worried about the guy?”

Woman: “YES! Babies know!”

Everyone else proclaimed their disbelief.

Me: “Okay, why don’t we move on to the other charges and come back to this one later?”

Eventually, we were able to convince her that, in this case, lightning not come down, not set fire to the house, as far as this baby was concerned.


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