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Last Updated: December 29, 2009
Speeding Ticket - Part 1
I consider myself a safe and courteous driver, so I was surprised when I got a speeding ticket earlier this month. In my 25 years of driving prior to this incident, these were my only offences:
- Santa Barbara, CA (approx.1986): speeding and running a red light but only written up for the light.
- La Mirada, CA (approx. 1991): rolling through a stop sign.
- Orcas Island, WA (approx. 2004): speeding.
At 4:00 PM on December 3, I was driving southbound on Hualapai Blvd. on the west side of Las Vegas. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the speed limit is 45 mph on the north side of Flamingo Blvd. but just 35 mph on the south side. In my opinion, there is no reason for the difference, and 45 seems appropriate for both sides. If anything, the limit should be higher on the south side, because there are fewer businesses, and therefore reasons for cars to be changing lanes and making turns.
I was running late to something and rushing a bit to make the light at Flamingo. Shortly after I crossed Flamingo, in a small strip mall, appeared a motorcycle cop. He threw on his lights and proceeded to pull me over. It was a clean catch; I feel right into his trap.
So, he walked over and said, "I pulled you over because you were doing 50 in a 35 zone." From others? stories, I knew that Las Vegas police are not very forgiving, so I wasn't going to make excuses or try to get out of it. It wasn't worth the indignity. I decided I would just take my punishment.
After giving him the usual documents, he returned with them about five minutes later. He started our second exchange by asking, "which is your correct address, the one on the license or the one on the car registration?" To back up a bit, I moved from one house in Vegas to another in June. In July, I sent in the appropriate change of address form to the DMV, indicating that I moved along with my two vehicles. They mailed me a new license but no new registration. So, I told the officer that the address on the license was right, and explained that I moved recently.
So he gave me a little lecture that if I didn't correct the address, my 2010 stickers would go to my old address and my license plates would expire. At the time, I thought maybe I didn't fill out the DMV form properly, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Next, he had me sign a ticket for both speeding and the incorrect address on the registration. He said if I went to the DMV within 30 days and fixed the address problem, I could have the incorrect address charge dropped.
When I returned home, I contacted Ticket Whackers. There are billboards all over Vegas touting legal services, like Ticket Whackers, that fight traffic tickets. I'm told they plead them down to a "parking violation," so the fine is less and there are no points added to your record. How they are able to do this, I'm still not entirely sure. I asked about it on my Wizard of Vegas site, and I got a lot of good comments but didn't hear directly from anyone familiar with Nevada traffic courts.
For the two violations, Ticket Whackers charged me $80. I believe this to be a service fee, and I think I'll still have to pay whatever they plead my fine down to. The receptionist at Ticket Whackers asked me to fax her the corrected car registration once I secured it. So, I mailed in another change of address form to the DMV, along with $5 for a new registration. By December 24th, I still had not received a new registration, and with my 30 day deadline approaching, I was worried enough to brave the lines and frustrations at the west Flamingo DMV to get one.
When I arrived at the DMV, a less than merry guy in a Santa costume helped me. I asked him for a Porsche for Christmas, but he didn't seem amused. Another employee, perhaps sensing the loud silence, joked "You wouldn't want to see the registration fee." Santa offered to have the supervisor provide me with an official letter stating my address was changed correctly back in July, but she was on her lunch break. My other option was to pay $5 (again) for a new registration. The lines looked short, so I opted to pay and wait. It took about 10 minutes for my number to be called. The person who helped me (I think he was a "he," but I'm not sure) printed registrations for both my cars for free. I asked him why I got cited for the incorrect address if I successfully changed my address back in July. He replied with something about the officer not looking at the right screen. I might add the lines at the DMV were not bad, so I was in and out of there in about 20 minutes. The mail had arrived by the time I got home and, of course, the registration I'd been waiting for had finally arrived ? naturally.
In part 2 of this story, I'll report my experiences with Ticket Whackers. I'm also planning to meet with a local attorney, who I hope can shed some light on what really is going on with these legal services. If I were a judge, I would not want to reduce people?s punishments if there was not good excuse, attorney or no attorney. When I lived in Maryland and California, I never heard about anybody who had no legitimate defense using an attorney to fight a ticket. Hopefully, I can get to the bottom of this. If any Nevada attorneys can shed some light on this, please contact me.