By Joe Novak
I ran into an acquaintance I had not seen in a very long time and inquired about his whereabouts. “I’ve been in jail,” he answered with a grimace. I didn’t say a word as I waited for more details. “I got a traffic ticket for not making a complete stop before making a right turn on red,” he continued.
“You went to jail for that,” I asked? “No,” he said, “that was just the start of my “debtors” prison experience. I needed to know more so he continued.
This guy worked construction and often waited weeks for some contractor to pay him for his labor during which he often ran short of money. He allowed his car insurance to lapse and his traffic ticket also triggered a 30 day “lack of insurance” license suspension.
Because his jobs were all over the area he needed to drive to those jobs and got caught driving without a license and insurance; does anyone see where this is going? The next judge in all his wisdom gave him a 90-day license suspension and a hefty fine which he could not pay. He was caught driving out of the courthouse parking lot and promptly arrested.
He must have done some interesting praying while incarcerated because the next judge he drew for his latest arrest had more than the average amount of common sense. My acquaintance explained to the judge that the system was stacked against him and the court made it impossible for him to get things straightened out. He needed to eat and have a roof over his head and so driving to the next job was a given.
He was a drywall finisher and could not drag his tools on a bus or a cab. He pleaded with this judge to make some accommodations so he could clear his traffic ills. The judge worked out a plan that allowed him to straighten things out and at the time we spoke he had his license back as well as his insurance and was very busy at work.
Had this Judge been an inconsiderate buffoon, this guy could have still been in prison, or possibly pushed to commit felonies just to survive.
I wonder how many average good guys are doing time or homeless because of a simple moving violation. The average cost of a speeding ticket for 12 miles over is $250 keeping some family from not eating much that month. I am not a law breaker nor do I believe that everyone should get off with just a warning but the “revenue” generating fines are getting out of hand.
My point here is that permit fees, licenses, taxes, traffic fines, banking fees and utility bill add-ons are breaking the average family budgets. It is no wonder the homeless population in this great country grows by thousands every month; problem is, not one politician knows how to stop it or even slow it down. Homelessness, once a mental health issue, is now an average “Joe on the street” issue.
Joe Joke: What is the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law and a great lawyer knows the judge!
To find out what Joe would do, e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Joe has 20-some years experience in manufacturing and says that as a small business owner, he found that you either learn how to solve a problem yourself or pay to have it done. Joe’s articles are his opinion and are only intended as a guide. Please consult an expert when in doubt.