Features/Entertainment / Kansas journal

Day in court

I considered it a quiet victory.

Monday was a slow day as far as municipal court goes. By the time of my trial, there was no one left in the room except Judge Tad Dower, prosecutor Mike Robbins, the police officer, the bailiff, and me, the defendant.

Here are a few details that led up to me sitting in a courtroom on trial. On a July afternoon I was driving along Plum Street by the fairgrounds. Like any good citizen, I pulled over as I saw the flashing lights coming up behind me. There was an emergency and I wanted to get out the way.

As I pulled over, so did the police car with the flashing lights. Seems I was the emergency. And the officer ticketed me for going 40 mph in a 30 mph speed zone.

My first thought was I’d pay the $101 fine immediately. But, when I drove the street later I saw it was clearly posted 35 mph in two places. I went to the municipal court and pled not guilty. A trial date was set. Then I took pictures of the signs, proving my innocence, and sent them to Mike Robbins. He was fair. He said he would amend the ticket. But, I still had a ticket.

Wait a minute; didn’t this prove my innocence? I was only going 5 miles over the speed limit. Everybody drives that. Just days before I was driving the 75 mph speed limit on I-70 and every vehicle passed me like I was a turtle in their way. Kansas Highway Patrol officers sat parked in the medians letting everyone from coast to coast drive 5 miles over the limit.

Showing up for court, Mike seemed surprised to see me. He had amended the ticket. I only owed $76 for court costs. But, as far as I was concerned my ticket was wrong. I was not guilty and wanted a trial to prove it.

Heck, I was paying for it, so I decided to be heard. I also figured I would win. The police officer went on the witness stand, under oath, and explained stopping me for going 40 in a 30 mph. After questioning from Mike, he said he was wrong; it was a 35 mph zone. But, I was still speeding.

It was black and white – speeding is speeding. It’s still a fine whether you are going 36, 37, 38 mph, according to the judge, one mile over the speed limit or 10 miles.

While others in the room saw me as guilty. I felt I had won. Well, at least a little. The expense of the trial was on me, all $76 dollars. But, the officer kindly admitted he was wrong. We straightened up the matter.

Plus, it was a good reminder for me – even one, two or three miles over the limit, speeding is speeding.

Kathy Hanks


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