How to beat a speeding ticket in Sebastopol

Back in October I was leaving Dawn’s house and heading home through Sebastopol when I was pulled over. For speeding.

Two things about this were infuriating. Anyone who spends any time in Sebastopol knows the town is a big speed trap. The speed limit tends to drop suddenly in 15mph chunks, and for a town of 8,000, there are an obscene number of traffic cops on patrol. At the time I was pulled over, I had been actively looking for the posted limit, expecting it to drop any moment to a sluggish 20.

Secondly, I wasn’t speeding. Or at least I wasn’t speeding as much as the officer said I was: 48 in a 30. I was probably going 35. And after he cited me I’m pretty sure he followed me all the way out of Sebastopol. Like the nefarious drug runner that I am.

A week later I got my official citation in the mail, asking me to pay a $186 fine!!! Or if I wanted, I could supersize my citation with a day of traffic school for the bargain price of $219—which would wipe my record clean so as to avoid any unsightly increases in my insurance premium. And they make it SO easy to pay—their polite way of offering to sweep this whole unpleasantness under the rug.

Nothing raises my ire more than a bureaucracy set up to put people in a position where they feel powerless to resist authority. It’s like an allergy I’ve always had. My gut response: “I’ll take your unpleasantness and raise you 2.” What the hell, I’ll go to court to contest this.

So in December, I went to traffic court and requested a trial by written declaration. Basically this means I wouldn’t have to show up in court and talk to a judge, I’d just write an essay and send it in. 19 years of formal education, and I can definitely write an essay. Plus I have to admit I got a sadistic shiver of delight when I learned the issuing officer would be notified I was contesting the ticket so that he could respond. “Have fun with that extra paperwork po-po.”

So in January I turned in my Declaration of Facts, a riveting full-page, single-spaced description of my account of the events of that night, along with a full page annotated map, both of which I put together the day before it was due. 19 years of formal education and I still wait till the night before something’s due.

Map I submitted with my Declaration of Facts in response to a speeding ticket

Well today the verdict arrived in the mail: NOT GUILTY! Case dismissed. Hell fucking yeah! I’m ecstatic. That means I save $219, my insurance stays the same, I don’t have to go to traffic school, and I get the satisfaction of beating the system and sticking it to the man.

Take that man. Consider yourself stuck.

Feel free to if you found this useful.


Hmm, hopefully my conquering hero status will carry over into trivia tonight. But either way, Leona and I won last week, so that’s $20 towards the Glitter Ponies Experience.

Geez, I wish I could have worked a bag of crawfish into my defense. Or at least into my triumphant victory dinner.


nice. but can you fix your google maps use so reading your feed in sage doesn’t pop an error msg every time i refresh?!

Awesome! I bet the annotated map got you extra points for being not guilty. Whoever read it must have been impressed.


Oh, man, it’s exactly what I would have done. You sound like Ryan when you say “po-po.”

Abe, do you mean the picture in this post is causing probs in Sage?

Or the post from a while ago on grocery stores? Is it the Google Maps warning saying that the API key I’m using is for only? Oh geez that’s annoying.

Hmm, either WordPress should not syndicate <script> elements or Sage should not execute them—and rather process the <noscript> element instead (which happens to contain an screenshot of the Google Map). Might be worth submitting a bug report to the Sage folks.

Take that, Johnny Law!

Justin, you are my hero. I hope that doesn’t put too much pressure on you.

Woo! You are my hero for the day.

Kudos! You are the second person I know who has gotten out of a ticket by taking on the system. My pal, Danya, conteseted hers in person with a pink briefcase and a bag of live crawfish she’d bought on her way to court. You did it with education and a good-looking map. Somehow, I am cooler for knowing you both!


yup, two errors:
1) only for justinsomnia
2) not supported by this browser (sage, i suppose)

c’mon dude, you know you want to hack the wordpress syndication code!

The Jerk

Lord loves the working man Don’t trust whitey Send in an essay and get rid of it!


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