i will, now, drive 55
July 11, 2006 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I got an extremely expensive traffic ticket (my first! and $632!) for doing 97 in a 75 on a lonely stretch of road outside of Lovelock, Nevada. I paid the ticket, and asked the court (and the ticketing officer, at that point) about traffic school; they both said that the points wouldn't transfer to California or go on my record, but as far as traffic school to lower insurance went, it was between me and my insurance company, and they'd get in touch with me. However, can't I do something pre-emptively to keep this from going on my insurance record? Or am I screwed? I paid the fine in mid-June, just before it was due (took a little while to save the money); the ticket was issued in mid-May.
posted by luriete to Law & Government (26 answers total)
I should note that I have written a letter to the Lake Township justice court, and included questions about driving school with my fine payment (which they cashed), but have never received a response. I also called them and left a message but never got a return call.
posted by luriete at 9:42 AM on July 11, 2006

I don't know about other state laws, but here in Illinois I'm pretty sure you could have been arrested for reckless driving (21+ mph over the limit)...

If that's the case elsewhere, I have a hard time believing you'll get clemency from anyone including your insurance company.

Unfortunately, any sort of break on insurance is viewed as a favor, so there's nothing you can do pre-emptively except hope that you get a hold of someone who can answer your question. If you're not getting responses, all you can really do is keep trying. You certainly don't have a "right" to any special means of getting a lower payment, so nobody's obligated (legally) to help you in this case.
posted by twiggy at 9:44 AM on July 11, 2006

May I suggest sending the letter again, this time certified return receipt. You may also want to see if an attorney who does tickets might help; they may not be able to do much with a Nevada court but if they fire off an inquiry on legal office letterhead, that might wake them up.
posted by chef_boyardee at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2006

"Lonely stretch of road", out-of-state driver... I don't know about this location, but some counties run speed-trap scams of a sort for "revenue enhancement". (I once got a speeding ticket on a lonely stretch of road in NM. The citing officer instructed me to mail a cashier's check only, personally payable to the judge. Hmmm.)

If this is the situation, and it sounds as though it might be, it is most unlikely that the arresting authority will report it to anyone. (Also, if that is the situation, continuing to bug them and sending a lawyer letter might be counterproductive.) It seems to be common that out-of-state traffic tickets don't result in an insurance report anyway, unless there is an accident.
posted by jaed at 9:56 AM on July 11, 2006

The fact that you paid the ticket means you admitted guilt and accepted all the consequences that go with it. I doubt you can do much preemptively with your insurance company.
posted by BradNelson at 10:00 AM on July 11, 2006

Yes, the road was extremely lonely, only a few long haul truckers. The police officer at first told me he was going to arrest me because someone had called me in as driving recklessly (which I doubt; I hadn't changed lanes, weaved, etc. in a long time, nor had I passed anyone), but then said it was late on Friday afternoon and the DA didn't want to deal with me. The ticket was written for "simple speed" and not reckless driving, luckily. I was (and am) very contrite and took / take full responsibility.

I don't know if it was a speed trap or not. The ticket was legitimate, though, and mailed to the court and cashed by them. The officer didn't seem especially shady, but I guess I wouldn't know if he had been up to no good. He did seem genuinely concerned about my safety and that of my passengers, though.

Thanks everyone for your advice. Perhaps I should just be thankful I wasn't arrested and pay the increased insurance and not whine about it!
posted by luriete at 10:09 AM on July 11, 2006

(He wrote "moderate / heavy traffic" on the ticket, as well, whcih was very odd as there was next to nobody on the road except him and me.)
posted by luriete at 10:10 AM on July 11, 2006

I don't know about NV, but in VA if you're caught doing 20+ MPH over the speedlimit or over 80 MPH, you will get a ticket for reckless driving and could lose your license. I had a friend lose her license for a year when she got caught going 95 in a 75. It definitely could have been worse!
posted by geeky at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2006

What makes you so sure the insurance company will even find out about the offense? With no points transferred and nothing on your record, I'd have some hope for getting off for the low, low price of $632.

(What an outrageous amount! Driving is not worth it.)
posted by Doctor Barnett at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2006

I'm 24 years old, and have gotten one speeding ticket and have been at fault for one accident in my life. My insurance rates have never gone up.

If this is your 'first offense', they may just let it slip and not worry about it. Just don't make speeding a habit, and your rates should be ok. YMMV.

And to echo what others have said: that huge fine for speeding, plus being out in the 'middle of nowhere' equals out to be speed trap, by my line of thinking. Usually, it's best just to pay off these fines... you don't want to fight a local system where the Sheriff is the son of the Judge, and his brothers are his deputies.
posted by triolus at 11:17 AM on July 11, 2006

What an outrageous amount!

Hilarious, considering the previous thread about the girl doing 100mph and how 8 years in prison "wasn't enough".
posted by knave at 11:36 AM on July 11, 2006

"The police officer at first told me he was going to arrest me because someone had called me in as driving recklessly"

Don't doubt that at all, actually. You were speeding with California plates. There are plenty of people up in that area that *HATE* Californians. You can thank Burning Man and the thousands of folks that sold houses down here and moved up there for that.
What kind of car were you driving?

Was it Nevada Highway Patrol or a Pershing County Sheriff that nailed you? If it was NHP, you really are quite lucky that they didn't impound your vehicle and haul you off to jail.

Since you've already paid it, the best that you can do now is hope that your insurance company doesn't see it and freak out. And next time you're in Nevada, don't go more than 5mph over the speed limit (if even that) because they really do like to nail Californians. Especially ones that are going nearly 100mph. :-)

Another thing to note is that the area you were in has some of the longest ambulance transport times in the entire state. The agencies up there are mostly all volunteer, have aging equipment, and because of the vast open spaces, transport & response times are long. the nearest lifeflight would come out of Reno or Marysville and would also take a long time.

Please don't become a statistic just because you were in a hurry. :-)
posted by drstein at 12:04 PM on July 11, 2006

I was pulled over by a Nevada Highway Patrol officer in a neat low sports car without lights etc. I never even saw him behind me until the lights went on.

I was driving a VW Jetta station wagon, white.

He followed me maybe 100 miles past where he pulled me over. I kept it nailed at 70-75 the rest of the way (the limit there is 75). I don't have cruise control or any of that fancy stuff on my car.

Yes, I am lucky he didn't arrest me. He seemed like he intended to, but after getting off the radio (4:30 pm on a Friday), he came back and said nobody wanted to deal with me right now. He also said he was going to call ahead to Utah (I was driving to Salt Lake City) and tell them I was coming.

Of course, I didn't speed the rest of the trip, and am usually a very safe drive and obey all limits. However I guess I sort of lost track of speed, with no other cars out there and the road so wide and long and smooth and straight.
posted by luriete at 12:10 PM on July 11, 2006

I think you're screwed now -- the ticket will show up on future driving (MVR) reports in your state (although, YMMV, due to the fact that your insurance company might not pull reports from other states). Regardless, what you can do in the future should something like this occur again is, before the ticket is resolved, immediately go out and purchase/renew insurance policies for an extended period (e.g. for the coming year(s)). This policy will be based on the older MVR, which will not yet have the ticket on the report.

This used to work, at least. Don't know if auto insurance companies have amended their processes to account for it.
posted by frogan at 12:25 PM on July 11, 2006

Thanks Frogan. So as far as insurance I may be screwed now. Well, good to know at least.

I did find out from the Nevada DMV (thank god for some agencies that give straight answers!) that points issued in Nevada WILL NOT transfer to my driving record here in California. So, at least my legal record as a driver is not damaged here in this state.
posted by luriete at 1:45 PM on July 11, 2006

luriete writes "(He wrote 'moderate / heavy traffic' on the ticket, as well, whcih was very odd as there was next to nobody on the road except him and me.)"

Cops have different definitions of this kind of thing that you or I. 1 car every 10 minutes is light traffic. Anytime two cars are within passing distance is medium traffic.
posted by Mitheral at 2:00 PM on July 11, 2006

Not an answer to your question, but the weirdest experience of my driving life happened when my friend and I were pulled over by cops in Lovelock.

We had Virginia tags and it was the middle of the night. I had weird bleached spiky hair, my friend had a little rough-looking facial hair. We were pulling out of a gas station slowly, looking for the on-ramp back to the highway, doing probably 20 in a 25 zone. Cop pulls us over, comes to the passenger side window -- my side -- and asks me (passenger) for my ID. Checks it out. Thinks for a minute. Asks my friend for his ID and the registration. Takes all of this back to his car for fully 10 minutes.

Two other cop cars pull up, one behind him, and the other facing us on the other side of the road. We're beginning to freak out. What the hell is going on?

Cop eventually comes back, again to the passenger side. Hands back the documents. Turns to me, very seriously, and says "Ma'am, are you with this man of your own free will?"

I was totally flabbergasted. Nodded silently. Cop moves his hand toward his gun and says "Ma'am, you can tell me. We're ready to go here. Everything's going to be all right."

I finally snap out of it and say, yes, yes, he's my friend, yes, I'm ok, everything's ok. After another round of this, cop is finally convinced.

I ask him, "What made you think there was something wrong?" and he says.... "We just have to ask everyone that." [goggle in amazement]

All of which makes me wonder, what the hell kind of a town is Lovelock, Nevada? So luriete, maybe he followed you because you looked like a particular kind of trouble that they get there often. Or maybe their sherriff's dept is just hyper-vigilant on the case of out-of-staters.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:29 PM on July 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Lovelock, NV is a town between Reno and Winnemucca. That's about all that it has going for it. ;-)

Oh, and there was an NHP involved shooting along that very same stretch of freeway recently. I was stuck in the 5 mile long stopped traffic jam right after it happened. (got photos to prove it)

It's also a prison area. There are a couple correctional institutions out in that general area. It's not surprising that they ask questions that may seem strange to the rest of us. you'll see big signs that say "Prison area - no hitchhiking" and "Do not pick up hitchhikers" along Hwy 80.
posted by drstein at 3:43 PM on July 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

geeky, you say your friend got caught doing 95 in a 75 in VA. Where in VA is there a 75 mph limit? While some states do allow 75 on certain roads, VA is not one of them.
posted by TheRaven at 4:32 PM on July 11, 2006

@Frogan: the insurance agent will *ask* you if you have any tickets. If you lie, they'll yank your coverage.

@Lobster: MetaSaga? :-) Neat story, and explanation.
posted by baylink at 7:17 PM on July 11, 2006

Hilarious, considering the previous thread about the girl doing 100mph and how 8 years in prison "wasn't enough".

Unless luriete's speeding resulted in vehicular manslaughter, and speciflcally vehicular manslaughter of a country's royal family, I think you should take your non-sequitor someplace else.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:52 PM on July 11, 2006

TheRaven, sorry, typo. I meant 65. She was in NoVa when she got the ticket.
posted by geeky at 8:01 PM on July 11, 2006

Civil_Disobedient writes "Unless luriete's speeding resulted in vehicular manslaughter, and speciflcally vehicular manslaughter of a country's royal family, I think you should take your non-sequitor someplace else"

There were several people in that thread arguing that the penalties for doing a 100 vs doing a 100 thereby causing bodily injury or dead shouldn't be so far apart. IE: there should be much tougher penalties for plain speeders.
posted by Mitheral at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2006

There were several people in that thread arguing that the penalties for doing a 100 vs doing a 100 thereby causing bodily injury or dead shouldn't be so far apart.

I of the "outrageous" comment certainly wasn't one of them. But if people want to find that juxtaposition hilarious, they can go right ahead.

I don't have much to say about penalties for killing someone with a car. The more I think about it, the less I want to be around cars at all. But $600+ for going 100 mph on a straight, empty road is solidly in la-la land. Like my $300 reckless driving ticket for practicing spinning out at 5 mph on an empty, snow-covered road in VA. (In that instance I was told that the speed was irrelevant.)

My radical thinking is that the punishment, if any, should be related to the risk posed to others.
posted by Doctor Barnett at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2006

Thanks, drstein; that does explain it more. I've been puzzled over that for years. (Plus of course, the name of the town makes it that much more memorable, to me. I'm imagining a whole town history involving kidnappings, forced marriages, etc.)

Thanks baylink, too. :)

posted by LobsterMitten at 8:48 PM on July 12, 2006

I just got a ticket outside Winnemucca for failure to change to the outside lane when passing a ticketing officer on the side of the road. We are from out of state. They won't even let you appeal via writing. It definitly smacks of revenue enhancement.
posted by mecran01 at 10:03 AM on August 22, 2006

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