Backseat driving

Awhile back I was stopped for running a stopping sign. A slow and hesitant roll at an empty intersection would be a more appropriate, but regardless, a cop was planted around the corner and pulled me over immediately.

By MIRIAM ABRAMOWITZ SHAVIV
June 14, 2006 11:55
3 minute read.
traffic violation illustration 88

traffic violation illust. (photo credit: )

 
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I try not to be too controlling on the road when I'm in the passenger's seat. But according to the state of Israel, I am officially a backseat driver. It's actually on the books. If you were to go to the Ramle courthouse and have my file pulled, you would find that I pled guilty, literally, to driving while in the back seat. Here's a pathetic look into what keeps our courthouses running so efficiently. A year and a half ago I was stopped in Modi'in for running a stopping sign. A slow and hesitant roll at an empty intersection would be a more appropriate description of what happened, but regardless, I didn't come to a complete and full stop. A cop was planted around the corner and pulled me over immediately. "Why didn't you stop at the sign?" "I guess I didn't notice that I hadn't stopped," I replied. "Well, you didn't," he said. "But I'm going to do you a favor." Phew, I thought. He's going to let me off with a warning. I've certainly learned my lesson, and the last thing I need right now is a fine, or even worse, those dreaded points on my license. "I'm going to give you a ticket," he announced, "so that you'll remember not to do this again." This was his favor?! A ticket. His sarcasm made the ticket even more bitter than the fine itself and I silently fumed as he joyously wrote his report. When I got home and examined the ticket more closely, I realized that he had recorded incorrect information. He said I was traveling north, when in fact, I was traveling east. Going north was not even an option at that intersection. After going to the municipality, I also saw that the city plans didn't have a stop sign designated for that intersection. Maybe I could fight this smug cop. The NIS 250 fine may not have been worth the trouble, but the points were. Instead of paying up, I contested my ticket. When my court date finally came over a year later, I arrived on time: 8:30 am. Oddly, my husband and I discovered that we were the only people in the courthouse. Fifteen minutes later an attorney strolled in, 20 minutes later, the judge. The rest of the defendants trickled in slowly after 9:00. Apparently, we were the only ones who didn't realize a summons to court was equivalent to a Sephardic wedding invitation - no one arrives on time… except in this case, it seemed we were the only ones in the dark. Before the judge entered the room, the attorney asked us who we were. We told her, she checked her list and insisted our appointment wasn't until 10:30. We fought over that inconsistency until we decided to simply cut a deal and bring this endless process to a conclusion. She was willing to reduce our fine by NIS 100. Actually, I told her, I was hoping to avoid accumulating the points on my license. She seemed surprised by my priorities. Points rather than money? She immediately picked up the phone, found out what kind of traffic offense came without points, and offered me a deal. I would plead guilty to sitting in the backseat of a moving vehicle without a seat belt. Entirely implausible given that I was the driver, but fine with me. Once the proceedings began, I was the first person to be called up by the judge for the sake of quick turnover. Do I plead guilty to the aforementioned offense? "Yes I do." The sheer impossibility of the scenario was irrelevant. The judicial process was that much more efficient, and the court that much more appreciative, for my willingness to lie in court.

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