The Unreasonably Fast And I’m Furious

I was on my way home from work one night in May, driving up Cook Hill Road, Wallingford, when I was greeted by flashing lights and a quick blast of the siren from an oncoming police car. He wanted me to stop.

I pulled to the curb, cut the ignition, turned on the lights and put my hands on the steering wheel. When it was time to get the registration and insurance card from the glove box I first asked permission. I was polite. I did all the things I was supposed to do.

Long story short I was ticketed for 51 mph in a 35 mph zone. Officially my charge was “Sec. 14-218a. Traveling unreasonably fast.”

Cook Hill Road is a lovely two lane road I travel nearly every night on my way home from work. On most nights I see no other vehicles on Cook Hill or any of the roads I travel in Wallingford.

Is 51 mph unreasonably fast under these particular circumstances? No. It certainly wasn’t unreasonably fast in Helaine’s well maintained SUV on a dry, deserted road.

I guess that’s beside the point.

I was pissed. I’m not going to lie. The officer should have given me a warning and sent me on my way. Rest assured a warning serves the same purpose as a ticket, if the reason for a ticket is to slow people down.

As soon as I got home I went searching for ways to fight it. Sure enough Wallingford’s signs are non-compliant with state code and weather conditions made radar use iffy.

When the state asked me to mail in my plea with explanation I sent a half dozen typed pages with photos and charts!

This morning I reported to the Meriden Courthouse for my arraignment.

Arraignment? Isn’t that for criminals? All of a sudden I was unsure I’d done the right thing.

I headed to a small courtroom in the basement. The word stubby comes to mind. It was a stubby courtroom.

Three attorneys were there representing the state, each taking case-after-case-after-case.

Before I could get to the specifics of my case, the prosecutor assigned to me offered a deal. I could plead guilty and get a reduced fine, plead not guilty and await a distant trail, or have the case dismissed and pay $75 to the Connecticut Injured Victims Fund.

I chose option three. Wouldn’t you?

$75 seemed like a reasonable price to make it all disappear, plus my money was going to a very good cause. I went upstairs to Room 128 where payment is made.

As I waited a man to my left signaled he wanted to ask a question. “If you’re arrested for driving on an expired license…” he began.

“I’m not a lawyer,” I replied. I shouldn’t have worn a suit!

A few seconds later I overheard the man to my right explain his need for information on a license suspension from the ’90s.

“I just got out after 17 years,” he told the clerk.

I didn’t dare look.

After a few minutes I was handed my receipt and drove home. There was still enough time to nap before work.

Case closed.

9 Responses to “The Unreasonably Fast And I’m Furious”

  1. Brian says:

    Geoff, same exact thing happened to me in May, I was stopped going 51 in a 30 in Newington, no warning, just a ticket, I pled not guilty and went to court last month. $100 donation to the same victims fund hopefully that means no points and no increase in my insurance premiums for next year.

  2. I am sorry. I find this fraught with humor. Especially the part where the guy thought you were a lawyer. Perhaps the officer only watches channel 3?? I should stop here. I may not be being funny.

  3. Robert says:

    The speed limit is for a bright sunny day with no problems being able to see. Unfortunately, it’s all down hill after that. So, technically speaking the speed you were driving was probably way to fast for conditions. There’s always the “what if”. Someone could be out there and you might not have time to react.

    • Geoff Fox says:

      I disagree. These limits are often arbitrary. Please note the speed on parts of the Route 40 divided highway is lower than Route 10, two laned Whitney Avenue, where the highway ends! Another example is the center of Cheshire where the speed limit is 25 mph. Try and not speed there!

  4. Diane K says:

    I’m with you Patty. I see humor written all over this one. The least the court could have done would have been to deduct the expenses of the time and paper you took to do all that research Geoff. I mean after all, your time must be worth something! No more speeding. Next time they’ll get you for reckless driving.

  5. Geoff says:

    Geoff

    As you researched the state laws, how was it that the street signs did not meet state standards. I seem to recall that years ago you found a similar signage issue, when contesting a parking ticket?

  6. NancyB says:

    I would have no problem traveling that speed on that road when there’s no traffic – it’s not hard to do at all.
    I agree – at night, no one around (and it must be fairly late if you’re coming home from work!) he should have given you a warning.

  7. Dinah says:

    Aside from the general safety issue with other cars and people, you are far more likely to be able to avoid a collision with a deer at a slower speed. Or any other animal suddenly crossing the road. There is too much road kill and much of it is avoidable if people slow down. That thought is what keeps me driving at the speed limit on my local 25-30 mph roads, especially at night.

  8. Greg says:

    The National Motorists Association

    http://www.motorists.org/

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