Bad Boys, Bad Boys. Whatcha gonna do?

I got a ticket a couple of weeks ago. No, it wasn't for speeding, or even running a red light. Nothing so glamorous. It was for having an expired inspection sticker. This is generally the kind of luck I have. Let me tell you the story.

The day before I got the ticket, I was driving along a two-lane county highway doing about 50mph when the truck in front of me swerved violently to the right, exposing the car and driver who had apparently decided at the last minute that he/she/it wanted to stop suddenly and turn left, without the benefit of a turn signal -- or even brake lights, for that matter.

This left me with about 2.5 car lengths to figure out what to do, since slamming on my brakes was likely to end with me in his back seat. So I followed the truck. I figured if this giant 4x4 had enough room to get around him on the shoulder, than I did too. The one thing I didn't count on was the extremely large pothole that the giant truck skipped over, and that I, in my Honda Fit, drove into and basically never came out of. My front tire made a noise like a paper bag popping, and I limped into the parking lot of a Dodge dealership with the front end of my car making a pleasant noise reminiscent of someone grinding cinderblocks into a bushel basket full of empty coffee cans.

I got out to assess the damage. The sidewall of the tire didn't look bad, so I thought maybe I'd gotten off lucky. I grabbed the jack, and right around the time I got the front tire off the ground, a guy from the dealership wandered over.

Seeing me with the front of the car jacked up, the lug nuts loosened and the tire almost off, he said (and I quote) "Got some tire trouble?"

Obviously he was an automobile expert, and an asset to Dodge corporation dealerships the world over.

"Yeah, I hit that giant pothole outside of your parking lot and got a flat," I said pleasantly. "But I'm good, I've got the spare, and I'll be out of your way in a minute or two." He nodded, then continued to stand there and watch me, like he had something else to say.

"Am I in the way?" I asked, since I was sort of blocking part of the entrance.

He said "No," and didn't move. I guess it was a slow night. I pulled the tire off and looked at the back. It was bad. The sidewall was blown out, and the edge of the pothole had caught the lip of the aluminum rim and bent it toward the center. I could tell that this was going to cost me.

"Wow, that's pretty bent up," said the genius.

"Yeah, it sure is," I replied.

"That's never going to straighten out," he said.

"Yes, you're probably right," I said.

"You're going to have to get a new one, and those aren't cheap," he said.

Jesus Christ. At that point, I would have given my left nut for an air wrench, or maybe a pit crew. I just wanted to finish up and get back on the road.

"Nothing is cheap on cars anymore," I said, popping the donut tire on and tightening the lugs.

"Can't leave one of those on for long," said the genius, nodding sagely at the donut.

I didn't bother to reply. I just dropped my car back down to the ground, tossed the ruined tire and rim in the car, and drove out of there without looking back. I'm sure my flat tire made for some fascinating dinner conversation for him later on that night.

The next day, I priced out a new rim and tire and the total with mounting and balancing was going to be close to $400, which was complete and utter bullshit; but unless I wanted my car to be a rolling Sesame Street song, I had to do it. I sucked it up and ordered it. Stupid Honda and their stupid expensive crap. Stupid people turning left, stupid potholes and stupid me for not seeing it.

It was going to be a few days before it showed up, and I didn't want to run the donut on the highway for my 2 hour daily commute, so the next day I took my 94 Miata to work.

This is the car that I only drive on really nice days, and I had just put it back on the road for the summer. I glanced at the inspection sticker from inside the car, counted the months backwards and figured out that the month with the hole punched in it was July, so I had some time. The registration was good until 2011, so I was ok there.

It's 5:30am in the morning. I'm doing the speed limit. I'm the only car on the road. Well, that's not entirely true, because the sheriff's deputy was also on the road, and he happens to see me pulling away from a stop sign. He also happens to be about 22 years old, and has nothing better to do at 5:30 in the morning than to pull me over. So of course, that's what he does. He informs me that my inspection sticker had expired, and he asks for my papers. I give them to him, and he disappears back to his car for about 20 minutes, probably to read the manual on proper procedure. When he comes back, he hands me my license and registration and says, "honest mistake, maybe the judge will do something for you," and then hands me my ticket.

Now I'm late for work as well. Stupid kid playing cops and robbers. Stupid me for not knowing the difference between 09 and 10. Stupid morning and aforementioned stupid list from the day before.

Fast forward to last night. I go to court, the judge asks me what I plead, and of course I have to say guilty because, hey, the inspection stickers aren't even that color anymore, and she says, "The fine for driving an uninspected motor vehicle is $50."

I have time to think, "Oh, well, that's not so ba--" and she adds, "...however, there's a mandatory New York State surcharge of $85."

WTF, New York. Just because? Way to trump up some bullshit charge to fill your coffers. How about you take some of that extortion money and maybe keep a state park or two open? Fuckers. Sometimes I really hate this state.

The guy before me in line got reamed even worse. Some girls he knew called him at 1 am drunk at some bar out in the boonies, and wanted him to come pick them up. So he did. Along the way, he apparently drifted over the double yellow on some deserted 2-lane back road in East Bumfuck, and some douchebag cop pulled him over for it.

Stone sober, rescuing some drunk girls, he ended up with a $250 fine and 2 points on his license. Nice guys finish last, I'm telling you. The judge did commend him for his efforts, and take the opportunity to make a little speech about designated drivers, so I'm sure that made him feel good about his decision.

Anyway, after I got over my sticker shock, I went to the cashier's window, paid Carlo and crawled out of the courthouse and into the street.

Grand total of this little escapade: $520.

I will regale you with tales of nature later on this week. She is a harsh and disgusting mistress, as you will see.


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  2. You got off cheap on the ticket. The expired inspection ticket here in TX is $204, and I have a 2000 Nissan Maxima that hasn't passed inspection since 2004. No, the shop can't figure out why it won't pass; and, yes, I just quit trying. $204 every once in a while is cheaper than a car payment.

  3. Anonymous7:10 PM

    If it makes you feel any better I got three, count em, three tickets in one day in VA. due to expired city sticker. By nightfall I was ready to torch the car.. I feel ya brother..

  4. Jesus. What did you do to piss Karma off so much?

  5. "...a rolling Sesame Street song". lololo. Excellent comedy!

  6. From what I read about New York (city and state) just screams "Extortion!" to me. What a bad couple of days.

  7. The "mandatory surcharge" is indeed the fuckery of New York State.

  8. The wife of the retired NYS trooper is just going to slink quietly from the room... well, maybe not. I usually feel unaccountably guilty when I hear stories like these, and this time is no different. I'm sorry you had a bad time of it.

    Just so you know, the fine goes to the city or municipality in which the ticket was written. The surcharge is mandated by the state, but it actually pays for the town court you were in and its personnel. I find I usually feel better when I understand why I'm being screwed. I hope that helps.

  9. That sucks! Unlike K. Erickson, I just had to prove that I had gotten it inspected within 10 days of the ticket, and pay $20 court costs. Maybe (probably) the laws are different in different parts of the state. Still, that's an awfully expensive lesson. Maybe next time you should...buy a Dodge?

  10. My sticker expired in February. (Long story about why I won't get a new one). Every time I go through a construction zone, I pray the cop directing traffic is looking the other way. So far so good. I hope reading this doesn't jinx me.

  11. Yep, NYS sucks... I live in Binghamton and my son got pulled over for having an expired sticker and had the same thing happen; $35 fine and $85 court charge.

    But hey, at least we have a balanced budget...

    We don't?

    Well, at least it's been passed on time the past...

    It's late this year?

    ... screw this state.

  12. Sounds familiar, and I wish I had your ticket price. A few months ago a vehicle broke down in front of me, so I tried to change lanes to go around it. Well the SUV behind me didn't want me to stay in front of them, so they tried to whip around me, and we collided. I got hit with the ticket somehow. Base ticket $45. Ticket after City, County, and State fees? $185. Bastards.

  13. kristina4:52 PM

    We all feel your pain. I'm sending good vibes for kharma to latch on to...

    I'm confused as to why you had to go to court if you were going to plead guilty anyway - when we get a ticket here (BC, Canada), you only go to court if you are disputing any type of traffic ticket.

    You either pay a ticket within 30 days, or they start charging you interest. If you haven't paid by the time your vehicle requires the insurance to be renewed, you get charged even more and can't get new insurance until the ticket is paid.

    For an expired sticker, we get $500 fine plus vehicle towed, cause you aren't allowed to drive without a valid one...

  14. K, that's cool as long as your luck holds. If I owned that car, I'd be paying something like 1200 a month.

    Lynn, they can do that?? Couldn't you just leave the first ticket on the dash? That's heartless.

    BG, I have no idea. I think the same thing that other dude did. I must have been nice to someone by mistake or something.

    Mary, thanks. I thought I would have to explain that one.

    Melodie, I stepped in dog crap today, too. That counts.

    Comrade, I figured as much. I hateses them.

    USB, then what the hell do my town and property taxes do? I'm not sure I'm buying that....why would the state require a fee and then give it back to the town? That doesn't make sense to me, but then again it's NY, so that stands to reason.

    KC, I might have gotten off like that if it wasn't expired by 6 months because it had been off the road all winter...they frown on that. The thing that sucks was that it obviously had no problems that would prevent it from passing.

    Jen, watch out for that color change. That will bite you in the ass.

    Sean, that sucks. How'd you get the ticket? I thought the person doing the ramming always gets the ticket?

    Kristina, I only went because the little CHiP told me the judge might be able to reduce the fine. Fat lot of good it did. I should have just mailed it in with a dead raccoon attached.

  15. Ummm perhaps you should move to the deep south -- where no inspection sticker is required! Whoo hoo for me. So sorry for you ... really, I am. I too have to pay a bunch of money to repair my Honda's bumper for a wreck that HONEST TO GOD was not my fault and now I blame the cop who wasn't bright enough to figure out that girl was from out of town and unaware that she was on a ONE WAY STREET and that she did not have the right of way.

  16. My husband fell victim to NYS's money grab too...He did not come to a full stop at a sign on a quiet street...slowly rolled around the corner to a hefty fine.

    $125 for the violation, plus
    $ 85 for the state surcharge.

  17. The court fees are "state mandated" because the state authorized them and dictates how much is charged. Originally, it was $35, then went up to about $50. Apparently it went up again after my hubby dragged me to VA.

    Think about it, they only impose the surcharge when you go to court, you don't have to pay it if you just plead guilty and send in your fine. The surcharge is to pay for the judge, the clerk, the stenographer (if there was one), etc.

    And you know what your state and local taxes are for. Fixing potholes, laying down salt in the winter (thereby causing said potholes), educating the annoying little bastards who extort candy from you every October, and paying off the welfare mother who spawned them.

  18. Aaand this is why I call it the 'Glorious People's Republic of New York'.

    I successfully plea bargained a speeding ticket in Corning down to 'failure to obey a traffic signal' but the fine was still $230.00. I'm fairly certain that the actual penalty for 52 in a 30 in the City of Corning is waterboarding.

  19. It would have been worse had you rear-ended the sans signals left turning douchebag. Despite his douchebaggieness, it would have been your fault. He and his passengers would all have whiplash (for life) and you'd basically pay for the rest of your life, dying a pauper.

    For $520 you got off lucky.

  20. I trump everyone. I have a 1969 and a 1970 Mustang. With 1969 and 1970 inspection stickers on them. AND, it's legal. But I did get pulled over once by a state trooper. He was going into an epilectic-cop seizure on me when he pulled me over. "You, YOU, you can't be driving, I mean why do you have a 1969 inspection, where did you, but the judge is gonna toss the book, jail for life, you can't have this on...." When he took a breath, I asked if I could get out of the car and show him my ANTIQUE license plate and registration. I thought only Barney Fifes chest fell that fast when state trooper realised that I was NOT going directly to jail and the 1969 car to impound.....

  21. Well that just sucks!

  22. Anonymous8:58 PM

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  23. Upstate Broad10:27 PM

    In that case, all I can say is that procedures have changed since we moved out of state. Not completely surprising given the current fiscal condition of NY state...

  24. Chris1:24 PM

    Here in Ohio we don't have to have our cars inspected (except for the e-check air pollution deal, but that'a whole other story). I got pulled over on my lunch hour for not having a front license plate on my van - now, my dad had just GIVEN me this van a couple weeks earlier, and had driven it in the same area for EIGHT YEARS with no front plate (there wasn't even a bracket/place to mount a front plate. Barney Fife pulls me over, and I explain the situation, and SHOW HIM the front plate, which I had with me just in case this happened before I had a chance to get a mounting bracket. He gives me the ticket. I decide to fight it, and appear in the local city court. Guess which cop is the bailiff that day - yep, Barney. I explain to the prosecutor, blah blah, and he says sorry, too bad. $150 fine, plus court costs - $230 total. And I pass this douchebag cop taking rador at least twice a week on my way to work - God forbid you do 3 miles over the speed limit.

  25. Chris1:26 PM

    Should have been radar - I was so pissed when I wrote that comment I couldn't see straight.....

  26. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Hey, I showed the 2nd cop the first ticket .He said, well now you have 2..(truth). Third cop saw the first two tickets and wanted to arrest me.. I now live in Florida..

  27. I live in NY too, and the surcharge shit is just that....shit. Explain to me why teachers are getting laid off, while the DOT workers are standing around, drinking coffee, watching one person dig/repair a pothole in the road?

  28. Well, just make sure you don't drive without insurance in Michigan. My daughter's insurance lapsed due to her husband getting cut down to half-time and when she got a ticket for "rolling thru a turn-right-on-red" which was $150 AND $150 for lapsed insurance, there is ALSO a $400 responsibility fee for not having the insurance in the first place!!! Total: $700, and this is a family who has to use the food banks every month. I wonder who thought this gem up.....