After three or four years in the clear, I got a speeding ticket last January that, in all honesty, I didn’t deserve (I guess driving karma exists). Thanks to a butthead officer and that little piece of paper, I was forced plead my innocence in the basement of City Hall on Tuesday at 9am. To pass the time, I decided to write an FAQ for Albany Traffic Court. Enjoy.
You get pulled over and the officer gives you a ticket. What do you do now?
Unless you get a ticket for “parking on pavement” (which, what the fuck were you doing?) you check the box that says “innocent” and send the ticket to the address listed. You could go to trial on the date they give you on the ticket but, I’ve never done that…I like to drag these things out.
What happens next?
You wait. And wait. And wait. Then, the week you forget that you ever got a ticket and hope that they did too, you get a letter in the mail telling you to show up at traffic court on X date at X time. Put it in every calendar you own. Take the time off of work. You don’t need to miss traffic court. It’s frowned upon.
What if I miss traffic court?
The court tells DMV that you didn’t appear and then DMV send you a letter threatening to suspend you license if you don’t contact the court by a certain date. And it says if they suspend your license a warrant will be issued for your arrest or something scary like that. Anyway, why did you miss court? You had plenty of time to plan.
What do I do on the day I have traffic court?
Show the fuck up. Seriously. Besides that, show up early. Your letter may say you have court on May 3 at 9am but, that really means you should be there at 8:30am to sign in. The earlier you get there, the earlier you leave. Also, bring lots of quarters. You pretty much have to park on the street to get to Albany City Hall. The more quarters you have, the better. You’ll be stuck in the basement for a while and leaving to put quarters in the meter is a risky move. You don’t want to get a parking ticket while you’re in traffic court. I mean, who wants to pay $40 ($65 after 20 days) on top of the fine they just gave you in court. I speak from experience.
I’m in City Hall. Where the heck is traffic court?
The basement. Go down the stairs and turn to the left. You’ll most likely see a small crowd gathering in a dingy hallway. Now walk to the end of the hallway and go through the door on your right into the courtroom. That’s where you sign in.
Now you wait for someone to call your name for your “conference.” Don’t think you’ll get a say in what happens to your ticket. When they call you, be friendly, pleasant and fairly agreeable. Plead your case but, don’t push. The people you’re meeting with don’t care that you were signing along to Katy Perry and totally got lost in the magical lyricism of “Firework” (nor does anyone, really, if that’s your case).
I had my conference and they’re reducing my ticket because xyz!
Of course they are…that’s why you go to traffic court. Now be grateful, walk yourself back to the courtroom and take a seat. When the bailiff tells you not to talk, use your phone, eat or drink, he’s not kidding. He will remove your ass from court at the first sign you can’t follow directions. That includes you, pregnant lady.
Just sit patiently and wait for the judge to enter and then for your name to be called. When that happens, walk up the the table, plead “guilty” to the reduced charge and see the clerk as directed. When asked for your plea, it is not “guilty, I guess” or “not guilty but, I guess guilty since I have to.” Say either of those and you’re going to have a problem.
What kind of resolution should I expect?
Expect nothing. However, your ticket will most likely be reduced based on the severity of what you did and your driving record. You’ll also receive a fine and a surcharge on top of that fine. If it’s reduced to a 0 point offence, there’s no fine but you still get to pay that awesome surcharge. You can opt to have 30 days to pay or you can pay that day. Unlike 3 or 4 years ago when I was there, they take credit cards. Now walk out of the courtroom and sprint to your car before your time expires.
Finally, make sure you pay the fine and stop getting caught up in Katy Perry songs while driving.
Unnecessary or possibly necessary disclaimer: This is all based on my personal experience, lack of a book while waiting and ill-fated humor. Use my advise at your own risk.