Some people go their entire lives without ever getting a speeding ticket.
Others, including me, experience the heart-racing panic of being pulled over by the flashing lights just a week after getting our driver’s licenses.
The story of my first speeding ticket involves a new job and a delivery truck, but I’ll get to that in a moment. First, I want to discuss the business of speeding tickets and a new motivation behind giving them out.
A recent article on MSN Money dove into the topic of city and state governments using speeding tickets as a way to generate revenue in sliding economies. It went so far as to say that in some places, traffic police are essentially tax collectors… with badges and guns.
The article gave examples in Ohio, Michigan, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Georgia of governments increasing fines or adding “assessments” to speeding tickets in efforts to make up for lost revenue and unbalanced budgets. It all adds up to millions of extra dollars from the pockets of speeders.
So it makes sense to hypothesize that as the economy sinks, the number of people who escape speeding tickets does, too. No one is immune, whether driving a BMW M3 GTS or a 3-speed Dodge Ram delivery truck.
Which brings me back to my story:
I was 16 when I received my first speeding ticket. I had just gotten my license and a new job delivering mattresses for a local company. One day, in that old Dodge truck, I got going pretty fast on a downhill slope (no way the truck was capable of speeding on an incline) and was pulled over for exceeding the 35-mph speed limit.
I was terrified to take my speeding ticket to my boss (who also happened to be my dad) and explain what happened. Luckily for me, my dad was cool and just told me to try and get the fine reduced in traffic court.
I remember sitting in court waiting for my turn before the judge, watching person after person try to talk their way out of their tickets. By the time my turn came up, I had decided to be honest.
The tired judge looked at me and simply said, “What’s your story, son?”
I said, “I did it. The officer caught me speeding. I’m sorry.”
The judge smiled at me, nodded, and said, “Thank you for your honesty. Don’t worry about paying your fine.”
To this day I remember that. It taught me a lesson about being honest and owning up when I make mistakes, whether behind the wheel or not.
Though in this economy, I don’t think even brutal honesty will convince cash-strapped courts to throw out a lucrative speeding ticket.
What were you driving when you got your first speeding ticket? Or are you one of the lucky ones who have escaped one… so far?