It was the day when I got my first ticket.. a parking violation.. and I realized that even this leading economy, a so called perfect country to live, is not that perfect at all. The difference being.. here corruption is coded into rules.. so it is “by the book!”
A few days back when my car was parked off street, I saw an envelope on the windshield. I guess it right.. it was a ticket. It mentioned I had to pay $53 for not displaying right registration sticker on my license plate. Here it is called a 5402 violation. The envelop mentioned that that under correctable violation section (4000a) if I provided a proof of correction within 21 days then my fine will be reduced to $10. Well..I was happy.. Thought it’s not that bad! :) So the next day I corrected it by sticking an updated tag on the plate.
After correcting my violation, proudly, I went to the Sunnyvale police station to get a sign of an officer as a proof of my correction. (The ticket was issued by City of Sunnyvale). I was surprised to learn that in a police station here, I have to speak over a phone to the officer who is standing few meters away from me with a bullet proof glass in between!! Well, police station should be supposedly the safest place in the city right! :P. Anyways, so I told him the story and asked him if he can sign off my ticket. He smiled, said "yes" and then pointed me to a notice which said I will have to pay $41 for an officer to walk to my car, check the plate and then sign off. So, for a $53 ticket, which would then (probably) reduce to $10, I will have to pay $41 to get it signed!! Wow!.. and it’s not wrong huh.. it’s written in the rules! :-/
Then he himself suggested me that I can ask around at other places (he did not know where) where I can get it signed for free. So I called up Mountain view police station.. $25 for people not living in Mountain view (free for residents). Thinking on the same lines that I am a resident of Santa Clara, I went to Santa Clara police station.. $11 no matter where you stay! :D .. God.. yahan bhi log lootne ko baithe hai. I can catch a cop on a road and ask him for his sign (probably when he is at Starbucks).. but interrupting a cop on duty.. could be another ticket. So these guys tell you alternatives and then tell you how that alternative is not possible :P. Then I visited San Jose police station.. where finally I got it signed for free. !! The adventure does not end here…
I asked the same officer to confirm that now I had to pay only $10. He had no clue why in first place the ticket issued was of $53. According to him it should have been much less. So again.. now I had to go to Sunnyvale police station to clarify what I had to pay. The same officer at Sunnyvale saw the ticket and said that the fine will not be reduced as it is a 5402 violation and the ticket mentions correctable violation (section 4000a). Well.. 4000a means not registering the car at all. So I asked him that not registering the car should be a more serious violation than not displaying the correct sticker right? Then how come that is correctable and mine is not!! His answer was.. “it’s not what we think, it’s what written in the rules”!! :D :D
So then, I did some internet browsing and found that my violation was correctable. I went there again and told him that the website mentions 5204 is correctable. His response “well, the website may mention it is correctable, but that does not mean your fine will be reduced, it only means you can correct it!” …now I had started losing my calm!! I asked him where I can confirm this.. and he said “We do not handle payments here.. we do not know”.! I called up the citation processing center (place where I had to submit my payment) and they told me I had to pay only $10 after getting the proof of correction. So I had both answers.. and no way to confirm what I should be actually doing.
Sunnyvale court is next door. I had read on the internet that I can pay off the tickets at the court, so I stopped by. I asked the officer there about the ticket, and he directed me to the police station for parking violation inquiries….. Now I am stuck in an infinite loop!! (and I can’t inquire anywhere else as the ticket is issued by Sunnyvale.. so other places won’t have any clue). Bhai SAB TV par Office Office lagta that bachpan me.. uske jaise halat hui hai!!
Speaking with my friends I heard few more such instances. A moving violation (like speeding etc.. which is safety related and more serious, which accumulates points on your license) can be “converted” to a parking violation by paying the lawyer double the amount of the ticket. Any ticket can be “settled out of the court” by paying the officer some amount that you negotiate. All the officer does is tells the judge he does not want to press charges. Well.. all this “lobbying”, “off court settlement”, “converting moving violation into parking” is perfectly fine as it might have been written somewhere!!!
Seriously!! What is the point in blaming our police officers, blaming our system? Bus hum illegally karte hai isliye?? Ya khule aam dikh jaata hai isliye? Log itne jyada hai.. to obviously such instances will be more evident right? Point is.. it’s everywhere and it is wrong.. We should be proud that at least our government does not legally permit these kinds of things (probably?)!!
Don’t know how much I am going to pay for this ticket! :)