Wednesday, April 18, 2012
In November, I got two red light camera citations exactly one week apart at an intersection I traverse every day to get on the freeway after visiting Flip. I was distraught. Each of them required a "bail" amount of $480, so I hired a lawyer who specializes in such cases at a cost of $300 per citation. She suggested that I handle the second one myself to save money, which I did. Today I learned that we lost the first case for which I had legal representation, and I will have to pay the bail plus an additional $57 for the privilege of attending driving school to avoid points on my license and higher insurance.
I was ticketed for turning right on red without stopping long enough. They had video to prove it. Our argument was that I could not identify the driver of the car which is registered to me as the driver did not look like me, plus she was wearing sun glasses which obscured much of her face. The red light cameras have been ruled illegal in some places including other parts of California, but not here. I must assume at this point that I will have to pay for both of them - if a lawyer couldn't get me off on the first one, I will probably not succeed with the second. It is a horrible waste of money, and enough that it will create a hardship for me. Yet oddly, I am not as upset as I was when it happened because watching Flip's raging dementia advance has made me realize what we all espouse but don't really believe: It's only money. Losing ones health or ones mind is far worse. Still, I know that for a month or so, I will compare the price of everything I would like to buy with the money this round of bad luck is costing me, and I will be sorely resentful.
The exact same infraction costs $50 in New York and Virginia, I've been told by friends who were also ticketed. $480 is obscene for turning a few seconds too soon when no one was even hurt. Every day I see people drive badly and dangerously under the influence of drugs and alcohol, texting or putting on makeup, none of which I do. It seems terribly unfair, but I will try to focus on how lucky I am to be able to get in a car and drive somewhere on my own because at the end of the day, there are far more unfair circumstances.