G. A. H. Jr. (classicjazzbari) wrote in thequestionclub,
G. A. H. Jr.

Out-of-state speeding ticket: Pay it or go to court?

Should I pay my out-of-state ticket, suffering the consequences (more points on my license, family's insurance going up, etc.), or should I hire a [cheap] traffic attorney and make him go to court to fight it?

Pardon my horrible grammar, by the way:

I'm a 21-year-old, full-time college student (FSU in Tallahassee, FL) working 45 hours a week at 3 part-time jobs, covering about 98% of my expenses (I also live with my lazy younger sister who I love dearly who goes to community college and has no job, yet I do more stuff for her than I do for myself...we're a close family). Even though I officially live in Tallahassee (and have been since May 2006 when my name was put on the deed for the condo that we're living in), I still have a Miami, FL address on my physical driver's license, and my car has a FL license plate. However, my parents live in the greater Savannah, GA area now, and my car's registration, insurance, and address that the FL DMV possesses (I'm not sure how that worked) is registered in Georgia, presumably, under my father's name (which is the same name as mine). I physically never lived in GA.

Yesterday (December 31st), my sister & I got up early to drive to Jacksonville (almost 3 hours away) to close out our bank account for a bank that doesn't have any locations near Tallahassee (my sister "needed" her money then and there, & it would've been too long for her to write a letter to the bank's regional HQ for them to slowly send her money our way for her access. Since she doesn't have a license, I offered to drive her, since I had an account over there too...it's our Winter Break & we're insanely bored). In the greater Jacksonville area (where the speed limit is 55), I got pulled over by one of their county police officers where I was allegedly clocked doing 80 (something I hardly believe, because I was doing 75-78 on the interstate [marked 70] in low traffic in sparse areas, & I was on cruise control most of the time). It was my first ticket ever, so I felt absolutely horrible & clueless as to what to do. Without virtually any questioning, the officer wrote the $211 ticket. Since we were in town, after we closed our bank accounts, I drove a little out of my way to pay the ticket at their office (my sister even offered to pay half of it). And, at the request of my parents, as to remove 3 of the 4 points from my license I received, I was going to go to traffic school. As horrible as I felt then and there, I pretty much moved on from it when I got back to Tallahassee.

However, today was even worse. My sister was going to get her driver's license tomorrow (but was later changed to Thursday because she stupidly didn't make an appointment prior, so I ended up making it for her because she's lazy), but didn't realize she had to have her birth certificate and social security card, which my parents still had in Georgia. Instead of enjoying a nice relaxing New Year's Day at home, I (not my sister) called my parents to make arrangements to pick up the documents, meeting them halfway in Waycross. Since I was being more cautious of my speed this time (also because I was driving on a U.S. highway instead of the interstate roads), I ended up using cruise control within 5-6 miles of the speed limit, & actually slowing down to the real limit when approaching small town and cities along the way. We made it to Waycross with no problem.

I ended up doing exactly what I did going back the way we came. However, I was going at least 69 (honest to God) in what I'm almost sure was a 65 MPH zone between Clinch and Lanier Counties, near Valdosta (I'm almost positive each time we went over a county line the speed limit was 65), & according to the officer, I was clocked doing 76 in a 55 MPH zone (WTF?)! I explained to the officer that I'm almost certain that the speed limit was 65 & I was driving 69, but he obviously wasn't hearing it. When he left to go back to his car to check my information and write the ticket, I was on the verge of tears (sidebar: he only asked for my license, not the registration, which I thought was kind of weird, because the Jacksonville officer asked for both...but at any rate, my idiot sister, who obviously was more pissed than listening, opened the glove compartment to take out the registration, which was when I noticed that the registration was not there. I had accidentally left it, along with the other ticket, in a notebook I had written the directions to the bank in at home. That would've been absolutely terrible if he asked for it.). After he finished, he came back and asked for me to step out of the car. My heart sank. I got out of the car, still on the verge of tears, & he said, "I got a stupid question to ask. How come you have a FL driver's license but the license & car are registered in GA?" Up until yesterday, I didn't even know. I ended up sobbing to him that I'm in college, my father's retired military (I showed him my valid military ID...my father said to show it when you get pulled over when I called him about yesterday's ticket; the officer wasn't impressed), and everything's in his name (which is mostly true). I got written a citation where I have to call their county courthouse to figure out how much the ticket is/what I want to do next, but by the time I called when I got home (I was about to break down every 10 minutes driving the rest of the way home, so there was no way I was going to make that phone call), they've must have been closed because no one picked up the phone.

I feel so embarrassed & I feel like I never want to drive again because I got 2 tickets in 2 days. While my mom & older sister are okay with it (as okay as they can be in this situation), my father & younger sister are completely pissed at me. I already have 4 points on my license from yesterday's ticket, & I might have 3 or 4 more on the one I got today (the officer didn't mention how many points I may have). I feel absolutely horrible because my family's auto insurance is going to up, & I'm totally responsible for it. And reading about what you can do about getting a GA ticket with an out-of-state license on websites is making me sick. I'm all about paying the ticket myself, despite it's going to set me back a lot, but I don't want more points on my license (by the way, I forgot to mention that I'm a music education major at FSU, & I'm going to be student teaching this time next year, so I'm trying to have the cleanest record possible so nothing weird goes off in the network of public school boards when I'm trying to get hired), nor the increase on my family's auto insurance premiums. At the same time, I'm not sure where to start if I go to court to fight it. I'm wary about it because a.) it's almost a 2-hour drive back to Lanier County, and I'm almost certain my assumed court date is not going to be before Monday (when school starts again), b.) if I were to hire an attorney, I'm not sure where to start with them, nor how much he/she is going to charge, c.) the possibility of losing my case, paying the ticket, plus fines for court & whatnot, plus my attorney's fees. Please help!!!
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