“Ignorance is no excuse for the law”
…then make it simple enough for everyone jerks!
Let’s back up to a beautiful sunny day in March. I’m on my way to work, minding my own business on my 600RR and travelling along the George Bush service road. I come to a stop light and filter a few cars ahead. I found myself in the same spot where a week ago I watched a car coming off the toll road plow into a stopped car. I go through the green light and immediately see the lights of a bike cop in my mirror so I stop. After some pleasant conversation I ride off with a ticket for no registration, which makes sense, having been lazy after purchasing the bike off craigslist. The bike had already had a multi-year expired registration, not too uncommon among motorcycles.
Within 10 days of my ticket, I have the bike pass a state inspection and I go to the local tax office. I pay all the fees, penalties, and taxes presented to me to register it, or so I thought.
Today I went to court in order to have the ticket dismissed. I’m irritated that I had to go at all because I jumped through all the registration hoops within 10 days, and per state statute, I met the criteria to seek a dismissal. I had to come to court today because the clerk wouldn’t dismiss the ticket because some code was missing from my registration. Of course she didn’t tell me what was missing and how I could get it fixed. So today, the judge and prosecutor give me the option of pushing my case to trial or paying the fine and letting this go on my record. Ridiculous
After a bunch of back and forth, finally the judge stops to hear what I had to say, “Your honor, I understand I didn’t pay the late penalty. I paid everything I was billed for and within 10 days. If a fee was missing it was not my fault. I don’t generate the invoicing to bill myself, a city employee does that. Since I am not legally able to climb the counter and bill myself for the proper penalties on the county’s behalf, I shouldn’t be expected to make sure the invoice is correct.”
The judge and prosecutor finally agree that if I pay the penalty, they will dismiss the whole thing. If they hadn’t, I would have to pay for the full fine or for the cost of a trial. That cost would the police officer’s hourly rate to be called in by the prosecutor, and the jurors time, which could all run up to nearly a thousand dollars! So I ride across town to the tax office again, they add the line item, and I pay it. Six dollars was the missed penalty that almost cost me a one thousand dollars.
A half day lost, hundreds in tax payers’ funds spent, all just to get a ticket dismissed that should have never made it to court if not for a $6 line item.