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Traffic Ticket Crisis Averted

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Know when a traffic ticket can end life as you know it?  When you are a sports official and things don’t go as planned…

The Ticket

Mr. BFS received a minor traffic violation ticket in Galveston in March 2013.  I can’t remember the exact wording but it was like “changing lanes without signaling”.  It was 2am, no one was on the road (literally…it was just us and apparently this one cop for miles), and we simply moved out of a turn-only lane since it was the wrong turn.  
In April 2014, he applied to take defensive driving and was approved.  He took the course in late May 2013 and mailed in everything requested on June 7, 2013 via USPS Certified Mail (a month before it was due).  That package contained his driving record and the defensive driving certificate from the online class that he took.

Well, he received a court summons on January 18, 2014 saying that he had to come to the Galveston Municipal Court on February 10, 2014 to explain why he didn’t send in his paperwork.  He’s worried and I was pissed and worried for him.  

The Main Issue

Here was the main problem.  He’s a Texas Association Sports Official.  This means that he can’t have ANYTHING on his record other than basic traffic tickets or he can’t ref anymore.  Period.  Reffing is his life.

Given that info, Mr. BFS was worried that they were going to charge him with something paperwork related that would get him kicked out of sports officiating.  We no longer had the certified mail receipt, just the credit card charge, so we had no way of proving that we sent in the papers.

Correcting the Issue

I called the court during the following week to ask about what we needed in order to wrap this up.  The court official on the other end said that they received our paperwork but that he hadn’t taken a “Texas Certified Defensive Driving Course”, so the certificate he sent in wasn’t what they needed.

Court House

I’m going to pause here to say that I was a good girl when I heard this.  I didn’t ask why in the hell they hadn’t told us last year.  I didn’t ask if it was standard procedure to wait until a year later to pursue issues like this.  I didn’t snap at her in any way.  I was good.

Anyway, I did ask what exactly did we need to do to make this better.  She said that my husband had until his hearing on February 10 to come up with a valid defensive driving certificate.

Getting Another Certificate

Mr. BFS called the place that he used before and asked if they were a Texas Certified course or not.  They explained that they have that course but he signed up for the insurance-discount-only course.  They also admitted that this happens pretty often accidentally, and then sent him a link to the certified course to let him take it for free.  He spent the next 10 hours of that same day carrying around a laptop.  He took the course and did other stuff while it made him wait to continue.  It was easy although time consuming since it was almost identical to the course he took before.  Grrrr…

I paid $20 to get the new certificate in 2 days instead of waiting for regular mail.  Thanks to ice, it arrived within 3 business days later.  My husband immediately certified mailed it in again as requested.  I am keeping that USPS Certified Mail receipt forever.

I then called daily all of last week to make sure that the judge would see the new certificate and clear the case before today, February 10. Otherwise, my husband would have to drive the hour and a half to Galveston to spend hours waiting to see the judge, who would then take 2 minutes to clear the case since he had the certificate in hand.

Luckily, they finally officially acknowledged it last Thursday, February 6, 2014 and cancelled our court date.  Supposedly, this is all wrapped up now.

Point to Remember

Overall, this stupid scare was hanging over my husband’s head for nearly 3 weeks.  We’re glad it’s over but I still wish they would have pointed out the mistake last year instead of giving us 3 weeks to make it better or suffer the consequences.  

Also, everyone should make a note to themselves right now that THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between defensive driving courses.  They are nearly the same course but are very different in the eyes of the law.

Have you ever had to deal with something similar?  Ever had a basic traffic ticket go awry?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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9 thoughts on “Traffic Ticket Crisis Averted

  1. This sounds like every issue I’ve ever run into.

    It was not a major issue and yes, you technically should have known which course to take and all the rules, but since you had never been through it before, you did not think to investigate every single option fully. But now that you know, you’ll never make the mistake again.

    Don’t you just wish things were simpler and the rules were easy for everyone (especially those who have never been through it before) to learn and understand?

  2. I’m happy this situation is now over.

    You’re right about there being a difference in defensive driver courses. I recently took one to reduce my insurance bill ($81/year) and I called my insurance company ahead of time to make sure it was acceptable. You want to make sure the driving school is recognized by the state you live in.

  3. Last year we got a small refund from the state, around $300. When it arrived it was minus $90 for amount owed??!! I know we didn’t owe anything, so I called the state and found out the $90 was for two parking tickets Jim got in downtown Denver in the mid 90’s. I know he wasn’t the most financially responsible person then, and they were probably legit, but absolutely no way to dispute something that old. I asked the lady why they were showing up now, 15 years later. She said they just got the software to sync everything up. So, I believe the statute of limitations for violent crimes is 5-10 years. You can have bankruptcy come off your record after what, 7 or 10 year? But get a parking ticket in Colorado and that’s with your forever!

  4. Great timing. My husband got a ticket for the same thing 3 weeks ago. Now has to do defensive driving. I just got a ticket last night for almost running a green left yield sign that I shouldn’t have been hitting accelerate. 🙁 Sigh

  5. @Kim, holy cow! That is a long time to track parking tickets! That’s impressive and scary at the same time…

    @Savvy, oh, that just sucks. 🙁 Maybe you two can take defensive driving together. It’ll make it suck less.

  6. I’m glad that it worked out.

    I haven’t had a ticket in years *knock on wood* but it’s interesting to note that for two of the three speeding tickets which I received, the speed limit was raised, both times within twelve months, to where I would not have received a ticket.

  7. What an outrageous hassle! It’s hard to miss the feeling that these “defensive driving” courses are intended more to punish than to educate — the business of making you sit there and sit there and sit there between online questions, so as to waste the maximum possible amount of time, is a case in point.

    Hope the dust is now permanently settled!

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