Traffic Citation

My first traditional driving ticket because I "disregarded a stop sign" the night of Feb. 7, 2009 in Frankford.

I’m promising myself I won’t swear in this post.

I was heading out to catch up with some high school friends Manayunk, a trendy neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia, just before 10:30 p.m. tonight. My night ended unceremoniously less than a half hour later – with police intervention.

I rolled through a stop sign. Yes, I rolled, no justifications here, but I can’t say I think that roll is worth $120, even if it was admittedly blatant. Considering I have a very nearly unblemished official driving record, gosh I was hoping I might get off for that – god damn – roll-through, which, I admit, certainly happened. (I don’t admit that I was driving a “high rate of speed,” as my citation suggests)

I was two blocks from my home. I never use my car, or more accurately my father’s car. I don’t own a car anymore. But after my grandfather passed, my father took his car, and had nothing to do with his fairly worn 1997 Nissan Maxima with 192,000 miles on it. He figured he couldn’t get more than a couple hundred dollars for it, so the deal was that if I gas it and paid the insurance he pays for it (though my payments are suspiciously delinquent), it can essentially sit outside my home in Frankford until a serious repair needs to happen, at which point we’ll bail on the car and I’ll be back to my happy, car-less self. Really, it seems I only use or the occasional trip to see the folks, likely one of the reasons my father offered for me to keep it.

But now I wanna push it into the Delaware.

So, though I never use the car, I decided to take it out this afternoon to go to a larger grocer – I try to turn the Maxima on at least every week. Then a high school buddy who lives in the area asked me to come out in Manayunk, which is only available by regional rail and a couple busses for me. Considering there is parking there, I frustratedly admitted driving was the cheaper answer. So at 10:30 p.m. I went out for the second time with that Maxima of mine.

I made it two blocks, rolling through a stop sign just in time to see the Philadelphia police SUV pull onto the road that met the one I was on. They flicked on their lights, and I knew I didn’t have a chance – especially when the cop approached my car with a certain degree of aggression and spoke hardly calmly.

I didn’t try any excuses. I didn’t have any. I was hoping a clean driving record, and my mention that I just moved into the neighborhood could do something.

The officer seemed to suggest it did – he did me “a favor” by writing me a Traffic Citation for $120, rather than the moving violation that ignoring a stop sign would merit. [Update 2/12] ]But here’s the thing, turns out because he still wrote on my ticket that I disregarded that damn stop sign, I will get points citation or moving violation alike. Cops, I’m told, lie to drivers about that all the time.

I promptly turned around my car, came home, told my friend I wouldn’t be coming, swore a bunch, and cracked open a lager.

I don’t want to discuss how frustrating the money portion is – I don’t have enough in my bank account to cover it at the moment.

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4 Responses to “Traffic Citation”

  • Comment from cmlenton

    from an insurance standpoint he did you a huge favor by writing a traffic citation instead of the moving violation. whatever you do, make sure you don’t get points because of it (thought I don’t believe you get points for a traffic citation).

    I’ve got two moving violations and pay the price (to the tune of $400/ month in car insurance)

    • Except it turns out he did me no such favor because, if what I am told is correct, whenever “Disregard stop sign” is on the ticket, points are assessed regardless of what lies the cop tells you.

  • Comment from LegalEagle

    You get points depending what section of the vehicle code he wrote down. If its a violation of the “obedience to traffic control devices” (section 3111) then you won’t get any points on your license.

    if the ticket is for failure to stop at a stop sign (section 3323) then you’ll get 3 points.

    I work with this stuff all the time, so barring any mistake by PennDOT (and they do happen), what I wrote above is correct.

    One last fact…if this was within Philly and it looks like you’ll get points, then go to traffic court on 8th & Spring Garden (set up a hearing to contest the ticket). I’ve gotten several tickets and every time I’ve gone there, they make a deal where the fine is paid & then no points.

  • Thanks for the advice. I am actually doing just that – hoping that a clean driving record and what I think is a somewhat lesser infraction (being it was later on a fairly desolate block) might warrant a dismissal of points.

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