I had a blast last July. I went to Orlando for a seminar on blogging, and my husband came along with me. We took two days to get there and two days to get back, and hit a couple of beaches along the way. The only incident that cast a pall on the trip was the ticket I received from the state trooper in Savannah on the way back.

It didn't matter that I was going with the flow of traffic. Yes, I was speeding on the interstate. I was clocked at 82 mph, and unfortunately it was a 55 limit on that stretch of highway.

When I returned home, I told a friend what happened, and she told me that our state of North Carolina treats other states' tickets as if it occurred here, and 15 miles over the limit meant losing the license for a period of time. I jumped on the internet and saw that I could lose my privilege to drive for a month. I contacted an attorney in Savannah to see if I could get the ticket reduced and long story short, I probably could. But the ticket and the attorney fees would be $1000. So I cut bait and just paid the ticket and let the rest ride.

Another friend said she received a ticket recently when she was traveling.  Similar situation except that it happened in North Carolina. She got the name of an attorney and called and was told to just put the ticket in the mail to them with a $450 check and they'd take care of it. They'd have the ticket changed to improper equipment and she wouldn't receive any points on her insurance. She was in a position to do this, so it's been handled.

These are the bare bones of the story. What is missing is the way I felt. The best word for it is "shame". My face felt hot. When I contacted the attorney, my voice shook. And when I thought about it, I knew it was ridiculous. I was speeding, not committing a heinous crime. So why did this emotion come up? I was feeling vulnerable.

Some of that vulnerability comes from a financial standpoint. Would I have the funds to pay for this? And some of it comes from how this will affect how I live my life. How will I get to work if I lose my license? (And I'm lucky with that - my husband's schedule allows for him to be able to drop me off, and I do live on a bus line.)

I'm not here to whine about paying my dues. I AM here to point out how money makes a difference in how we get treated. I'm lucky - I was able to pay my ticket and I will be able to cope when I'm informed of losing my license. But what about people who are unable to do that? If I felt vulnerable in my situation, what must someone who lives closer to edge feel?

I know we don't have a classless society yet. There are still the have's and have not's. We're always hearing about how the middle class is doing, especially around election time. We know the upper class has the money and the power. And then there is the 1%, the uber-rich, which constructs the blueprints of our society. But we don't often hear about the lower class, those at poverty level.

Perhaps you've heard about the new debtors prison in the news lately. Towns and cities are putting their lack of funds on the backs of those who are the least able to pay. Those who go to court for traffic violations end up on probation with exorbitant court fees and fines, and when they fall behind in paying them off, they are carted off to jail. And while they are there, their bill keeps mounting for their stay in prison! Some states have called debtors prison unconstitutional, but not all states have caught up. The gap between those who are unable to deal with life's governmental fines and those who can is increasing. This needs to change. It's not the vision of America I was taught in school.

Meanwhile, I've got a ticket to ride... I haven't received notice of forfeiture yet, but I know it's coming. I'm not between a rock and a hard place. I am fortunate enough to be able to deal.

 


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    Renee has been around the block a few times and has some opinions on how we interact with each other. She's bringing over the blog posts from My Peace of the Earth, and will be adding more.

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