Friends, I need your advice. Yeah, sure, in the comments section you can leave your clever, borderline snide remarks, but I am requesting a fair share of genuine counsel. Otherwise, I could end up in jail. And because I'm real pretty, burly men will want to violate me. And I know you all think that that would be a dream come true for me, but it's not. Because the burly men in jail will not all look like Channing Tatum or Ryan Reynolds. I will be screwed—in a bad way.
So here's the situation:
A few months ago, I was stopped by a police officer for making an illegal left-hand turn off of Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Angeles. (There are certain hours each day where left turns are not okay.) Because I have an irrational fear of authority, I fumbled for my license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration, all of which were up to date. To my surprise and subsequent panic, the car registration paperwork I handed the officer was from the previous year—so I desperately dug through my glove compartment for the correct piece of paper. Sensing that I was crumbling like a little bitch, the kind officer decided to not cite me for the moving violation, and instead wrote me a "fix-it" ticket for the registration. All I had to do to clear my name was go into the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles and show my valid registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Several days later, I went to the court to resolve the situation, only to find out that there was no record of my citation in the computer system. The court clerk looked at my traffic ticket. The officer had intended to check off the downtown Los Angeles courthouse as the location that the citation would be processed at, but the check mark that he wrote was awfully close to the box for the San Pedro courthouse. The clerk speculated that my citation was being processed at a different location and that it would take a while for it to get back to Los Angeles. There was nothing she could do for me that day.
And here's the part of the story where you have to understand my history with traffic tickets. I have only been stopped once in my entire life, 15 or so years ago. (I'm a good Asian driver!) It was for speeding, and I don't remember any other circumstances surrounding the incident because it was so long ago. Now of course I have received parking tickets since then—after all, I lived in San Francisco for 12 years—and I assumed that traffic tickets were processed the same way that parking tickets were processed. I mean, it's totally reasonable for me to think that, right? It's completely logical for me to assume that, since you receive a notice in the mail about your parking ticket after the ticket has been issued and attached to your car, you're supposed to receive a notice in the mail for a traffic ticket too. So, with this knowledge, I thought, "Oh, since the clerk said it would take a while for the citation to come back to Los Angeles, I will know when that happens because I will receive a notice in the mail."
Most of you know where this story is headed. YOU DON'T GET A NOTICE IN THE MOTHERFUCKING MAIL! That ticket the officer writes is your only notice before the system starts trying to assault you with its huge, ugly, misshapen cock!
Several weeks after me waiting for the imaginary notice to come, I received an angry letter on yellow stationery that said a "hold" had been placed on my driver's license, that it was subject to suspension, and that I had 10 days to pay the $811 bail amount.
After freaking out, I thought to myself, "Oh, this is a simple matter to resolve. I just need to talk to someone."
Most every time I called the courthouse and navigated the menu to get to a real live person, the system automatically hung up on me because it said it was overloaded with calls. On the few occasions I was lucky enough to be put on hold, I was told I was the 75th or so person waiting to speak someone. (I'm really not exaggerating!) I never made it through.
I called the collection agency that the courthouse had sent my matter to. The person I spoke to was mean, and her only goal was to get that money. She didn't want to hear my story, and she wouldn't give me any names of someone, anyone, I could talk to or any numbers other than the general courthouse line.
"Okay," I thought. "I'll just write to the courthouse." I sent a long, involved explanation of my circumstances, along with a copy of the original misinterpreted traffic ticket, and waited for a response. What I got instead was a notice that said I had an outstanding warrant and that reiterated the hold on my license and the bail amount.
"Well," I thought, "maybe if I address a letter to someone specific, they can help me." After extensive research on the Internet, I was able to get the names of two traffic court referees, who handle cases at the Los Angeles court. I sent both of them certified letters and waited for a response. What I got instead was a notice from the Department of Motor Vehicle saying that my license "hold" would convert into a suspension if I don't resolve this matter within the next month.
I finally realized what I had been doing wrong this whole time: I was trying to resolve the situation in a logical manner. It was like attempting to reason with a crazy person or to use common sense with the criminally insane.
Okay, folks, what do you think? Did I lose before I had even begun? Or is there still hope? Should I try to contact someone higher up in the court system? Who? Should I track down the police officer? Could he help in any way? Would physically going to the courthouse do anything? Would the clerk even allow me to speak to a supervisor or someone higher up? Do you know someone who has vast knowledge on matters such as these? Or should I just shut up and pay the goddamn fine already?
The well-being of my ass is now in your hands.
[Update 08.14.09: Read "My Traffic Ticket Dilemma, Part 2: It's Over, It's Over, It's Finally Fucking Over."]
[Update 08.20.09: I'm such a good boy. At least I didn't pay my ticket with a bunch of urine-soaked coins, like this disgruntled citizen in Portland. Seriously. Watch:]