I have recently been issued my very first speeding ticket! Don’t ask me why that makes me so excited, I don’t have an answer. Anyway, it was a Saturday afternoon, and I was driving down 99 between Cypress and Katy. I normally travel this particular road late at night, when the traffic is lighter and there are zero cops. On this particular day, I was going 83 mph, and the speed limit was 70. Oops. But really, who does the speed limit on 99?! I’ve never even seen a cop. I’d just made it out of the little cluster of cars I was in, maybe 5 of us, and I was the first vehicle over the hill. I saw the officer with his little speed gun thing pointed right at me, and I knew right then that I was caught. He got into his car and pulled into traffic behind my little cluster, eventually making his way to the front and pulling me over. I was really calm (unusual for me when being pulled over) and accepted my ticket with grace and a smile. I even thanked the officer for pulling me over. While I was traveling above the posted speed limit, I wasn’t driving crazy. It wasn’t raining, the roads weren’t wet. In fact, I was traveling with the flow of traffic! I’m just the one that got caught. I don’t think I was doing anything necessarily unsafe. I wasn’t texting, or weaving, or speeding past cars. I wasn’t late for anything. But I did get stopped, I did get a ticket, and that means I had to do defensive driving.
Now I’m technically an adult, but I don’t really know how to do adult things yet. I filed my own taxes this year, at the ripe old age of 22, and I didn’t lose a limb or poke my eye out or anything so I think I did alright. But I have absolutely no experience with defensive driving, or with tickets. So what did I do? I asked a few of my really smart coworkers. I got about 5 different opinions before deciding to do my own research. None of the people I asked were around my age, or had gotten a speeding ticket within the last two years. So while I valued their time, I couldn’t do much with their advice. I ended up calling my insurance company to see just how much my first ever speeding ticket would impact my monthly insurance payment. You would think maybe they’d forgive it, or cut you a break your first time around – NAH. The guy on the phone couldn’t give me an exact dollar amount, but he said that, in his experience, it would cost at least an extra $50 a month. And since my insurance is captured and quoted for 6 months at a time, that means I’d be paying at least $300 extra between now and Christmas. Fuck that. I’d rather pay for defensive driving and sit through the class.
Which is exactly what I decided to do. I followed the website on my original ticket, found my case using my personal information, paid a $120 fine (and pled guilty to speeding), and patiently waited for them to send me further instructions through the mail. Last week I got my letter from the Justice of the Peace, which stated that I was found guilty (which I think was established when I paid the original $120 fee), and that I owed a fine of $200 to be paid in person at the end of July… UNLESS I completed a TEA approved driving safety course, obtained proof of said course completion, and mailed it into the Court with the rest of the documents by my court date. All in all, I have to mail three documents:
So rewind to the part about me having to take “a driving safety course approved by the Texas Educational Agency”. Because what the fuck? There’s multiple courses? Why would someone even want multiple courses? Why the need for options? Why can’t they just be like, “Here’s a link to your 6 hour TEA approved driver safety course! Have at it!” But no. Now I’m faced with the problem of finding a TEA approved course. I had no idea how I was going to find a course, much less verify its approval status and credentials. Luckily, as my mother would say, ‘the drama was all mine’. A quick google of the term “TEA approved driving safety course” brought me to this website:
This website pulls up like a kajillion TEA approved courses. Apparently someone, or a group of someones, complained that the original course was too boring, because I’m telling you every other course was “a sense of humor – comedy ticket dismissal course” or “comedy course Texas – online ticket dismissal”. And don’t get me wrong, I love options, but as a first time offender I had no idea WHAT kind of course I wanted. I didn’t care if it was funny, at first. I thought “just give me the damn course!” but I later found that choosing one of the “fun” options actually made it less painless. Actually it was better than painless – there were memes involved. Not lying.
I chose the Fun Ticket Dismissal – Online Driving Course over at funticketdismissal.com and I really can’t say enough about this course. This course was like that teacher in high school that gave you the final, but with the answers in a different order, and then gave you the answers and all you had to do was memorize them. This course was very much like that. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down and finish my course in one day, but this course is designed so that you can log out at any point and log back in and pick up where you left off. There were a few tricky questions not covered by the review, but if you watched even a little bit of the video preceding the question it was pretty much self-explanatory. I highly recommend this course, fo real yo. There was 8 units, each unit was 7-10 pages long and included information and videos. There was 3 kind of videos:
I paid $25 for the class and an additional fee of $25 for the ‘school’ to collect my driving record and mail it to me with my certificate of completion that I earned when I completed the course. I didn’t know exactly how to go about collecting my driving record, and I’m sure it was painfully easy and that I should have saved my $25. But in this letter it says that the driving record is maintained by the Department of Public Safety. Which to mean translates into: You have to take a day off work (yes, a whole day) to fight DMV crowds to obtain a copy of your driving record. Taking a day off work means a chunk of my check is gone, way more than $25. So I opted to have the collection done electronically.
Patience isn’t yet a virtue of mine, but I’m working on it. In 6-8 business days, I should have 2 of the 3 items I need. The last item, the affidavit, was included in the letter I got last week. I need to find a notary, but that should be relatively easy.
I wanted to write this for anyone who might be like me. Old enough to speed, but too young to know what the fuck to do about your ticket. Here’s some friendly advice:
Even if you’ve never gotten a ticket before, I suggest taking this course. I saved $30/month on my insurance for the next three years by taking it. Even though I took it to dismiss a ticket. $30/month for a year is $360, so over the next three years this one $25 class will have saved me more than a thousand bucks… So worth it. Happy driving!
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.