This past Wednesday I had to go to a 6 hour defensive driving course. And it was... something. You might be picturing images of a now well-educated driver who is ready to get back on the road.
If so, let me just give you a more accurate picture of this experience:
Now, let me just confess to you that this is not my first experience with such a course. Not even my second. It was number 3. However, the first two were both in High School (yes, I had some difficulties learning to practice patience and pay attention). So it has been over 10 years since the last sentencing. And let me tell you... the last 10 years have not been monumental for the defensive driving curriculum. It was just as boring and obvious as ever.
However, I am grateful for it. I now only have to pay a $300 fine and can celebrate a clean driving record, rather than my original $728 fine and 4 points on my license. Yes you read that right. $728!!! Now you might be wondering what I did to be given such a fine. I must be an incredible danger to society to be given such a punishment. Here it is... get ready for it... I was going 81 mph on I-75 South, near the Moore's Mill exit. Let me qualify that by saying EVERYONE goes 81 mph on I-75 South near the Moore's Mill exit. Well... Maybe not everyone. But this is not just outrageous. But that fine certainly is.
I was driving along, mid-morning-ish, and yes, I was speeding. I acknowledge that it was irresponsible of me to not be more aware of my speed. I was a bit distracted with my thoughts (no, I was not on the phone, and no the radio was not even ON), and I was driving along in the middle lane with light traffic around me. All of a sudden I see a cop, putting his radar gun away, and hopping on his bike. I look around me for the speeder, and realize we are all going the same speed, so it's as likely me as it is anyone else. I'm pleading with the forces above that it NOT be me... as he pulls in behind me and turns on his lights and siren. UUuuuggghhhh. If you have not ever been pulled over, let me just tell you, it is not a good feeling.
So the guy pulls me over, can't be bothered to interact with me like a normal human being, and asks me for my license. I hand it to him, thinking I will at least get to interact, have a few words exchanged, maybe even a little eye contact. But no, nothing. And he walks away to write up the ticket. Now... I will save you the story of the [offensive word that so appropriately describes him] cop, because I know these are a dime a dozen. But let me just assure you that he was the exact definition of a [offensive word]. And I wish that I could have told him this. In not-so-few words. But he is protected by the ability to just slap on more fines. And he knows it. And that is why he behaves this way. Oh, and the fact that he is a [offensive word]. But, getting another ticket is not worth it. And so I used all of the strength inside me to hold in the very clear and descriptive words that I wanted to use to tell him exactly what I thought of him. And this took some strength from above. Lee can vouch for what a feat this was as he is typically the one who ends up hearing the passionate description later at home... Oh, and that one unfortunate fellow at Andrews Upstairs that crossed me one too many times in one evening. That guy might be surprised to find out I have any composure.
Let me just tell you, Jesus got an earful in that next prayer for self-control.
So I get my ticket (oh, and that was one ugly signature I signed... I'll show him!), and head on my merry way. Let me just clarify, I was not mad at that guy for pulling me over. I was not happy about this, but I was speeding, and I was the chosen one to get caught that day. Life goes on. I was mad at this guy for his methods. Or lack of methods. Truly, I would have assumed he was mute if he did not have to ask me for my license and tell me to sign the ticket. But I'm getting distracted again... I head on my way. Fast forward 3 weeks (even though my ticket should have been in the system within 2 weeks... add lazy and inefficient on to his lovely qualities), and I finally can see my fine online. I type in my info... and up pops $728. I literally threw up on my keyboard. Ok, not really. But I may have had a few dry heaves. Words can't describe exactly what I felt at that moment. The frustration... the injustice...
Did you guys know that the speed limit on I-75, I-85, and I-285 is 55mph??? Has anyone ever witnessed anyone (who is not driving with their flashers on or receiving the finger) driving 55 mph in Atlanta? Well you would have if you had been on the road the next day. Cause I did. And I felt like I truly was a danger to society and to myself that day. If I wasn't going to be rear-ended, then I was going to be caught in a collision from the unfortunate people behind me trying to merge into the next lane to pass me. It was like watching someone trying to time jumping into double-dutch ropes. They have one split second of a chance, and you aren't quite sure if they're gonna make it. That speed limit is ... comical.
So the moral of all of this... I will not deny that I should not have been going so fast that day. However, I would expect that 81 would be considered 11mph over the speed limit, 16 maybe. But 26 over??? Come on Atlanta. My final thoughts:
1)The speed limit needs to be re-evaluated to be a little more realistic.
2)The fine does not exactly fit the crime.
And just for the record, no this was NOT a "super speeder" ticket. The Super Speeder law tacks $200 onto the original fine if you are going 85mph or more on a multi-lane highway, or 75mph or more on a 2 lane road. So $728 is the standard fine for this offense.
So now, for your records, let it be known that the speed limit in Atlanta is 55mph.
I must apologize to Jimmy Carter for my incorrect information. He was not president until 1977, so this idea of the national law would have originated more during Richard Nixon or Gerald Ford's time I guess. My apologies sir. And thank you for the visual aid.
And also, for your records, you will likely be dealing with a bafoon if you get pulled over in Atlanta. So it will be an all around just unpleasant experience. I for one am a changed woman after this.
In all seriousness, I know I do need to slow it down. And I already have. As I said... I am a changed woman.
And there you have it... the word-vomit in all it's glory!!