August 19, 2006

Flashing Blue Lights

Filed under: General — pohodo @ 7:50 am

On my way to work yesterday, I got a speeding ticket. I could rant about how, if my company didn’t move me to a new location 15 miles further away (in Atlanta traffic!), I wouldn’t have been in a position to soil my driving record. Or how I really don’t think it was possible for the cop to actually get a clear shot at me and just made up a number, and how there’s almost no way to even challenge something like that given the “due process” of the wonderful legal system surrounding traffic court. But I’ll save you any further pain in that regard. 🙂 After all, I’ve gotten away with a lot of stuff on the road over the years so I figure I was due.

I haven’t received a speeding ticket in well over a decade, and the experience brought back memories of my rather insane youth. Not that I was driving crazy, because I’ve come a long way in my driving since the old, renegade days. But because the entire process of getting a ticket is EXACTLY the same. Okay, so the police cars are more menacing looking, with their all-black, dark-windowed, low-profile lights and stuff. But other than that, I was shocked at how ancient everything seemed.

As far as I can tell, the entire world has been evolving pretty quickly in the technology boom of the past decade or so. When you get your drivers license in Georgia, you even have to give up a finger print that is embedded as data in your license, along with a bunch of other personal info (just like a credit card stripe). Every police car I’ve seen for a long time has a laptop attached to the dashboard. And yet, the ticketing system appears to be literally unchanged.

When the officer returned with my license, it was accompanied by the same carbon copy paper ticket I was well-accustomed to back in the 80s. After I signed my guilty plea, he tore off my copy and gave it to me. So the cop took my license back to his car, probably ran it through their ellaborate computer systems trying to see if I was an enemy of the state, had insurance, registration, etc. And then proceeded to chicken scratch out a hand-written ticket (okay, his handwriting was pretty good, but you get the point), copying my information letter by letter onto some carbon copy ticket. What, they can’t put a little tiny printer in their cars and save everybody a lot of time and effort? Unbelievable in this day and age.

When I finally arrived at my office, I was quite curious about the cost of this event, so I picked up the phone and called the number on the ticket. The lady asked for my citation number, which I gave her. Yep, you guessed it, no information about the ticket, because the cop’s carbon copy of the ticket won’t trickle down through the paper trail for days. I really hope that my tax dollars aren’t paying somebody to type all of the hand-copied data about me into some other system.

Anyway, I just thought it was odd that police all over the country are still wasting valuable time hand-writing stuff out in 2006.

BTW, according to Wikipedia…
Carbon copying: This practice declined with the advent of photocopying and other electronic means.

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