Back in May i was on my way to a meeting when a very efficient and eagle-eyed South Carolina state trooper pulled me over because the sticker on my license plate was out of date. Seems I had been driving around for months illegally.
The trooper was very nice. The fact that my insurance card had expired only drew a warning, but my expired sticker carried a $155 fine.
"Don't worry," the trooper said. "Just go to court on July 5 and prove that you paid your taxes (personal property taxes on vehicles must be paid to make your plate legal) and the fine will be forgiven."
So, the next day I searched my records and discovered that I had paid those taxes of about $300 immediately upon receiving the bill on August 1. I marched into the county tax office, produced the cancelled check, and after checking my records the very nice clerk gave me a statement marked paid in full.
Then, I went across the street to the Motor Vehicles Administration office, where I received a new sticker for my plate, which I applied immediately.
So, today was my big day in court. I was supposed to be there at 8:30, but I didn't wake up until 7:45 and I live 30 minutes away. Needless to say, I didn't have time to shave or do much of anything else. But, I didn't speed.
I made it on time, however, and when I walked into the courtroom I was one of at least 50 people waiting for the judge, who told everyone that the easiest cases would be heard first. So, I thought, I'll be out of here in no time. After all, mine is only a sticker violation.
Case after case was called. People with DUIs. People driving on suspended licenses. One guy was told he had to pay more than $1200 by August 2 or he would spend 60 days in jail.
"Your honor, no way I can pay $1200," the man said.
"There's no in between on this," replied the judge. "You have until August 2nd to come up with that money or you're going to jail. Do you understand?" The man said he understood.
"Boy, am I glad mine is only a sticker violation," I thought.
More than an hour passed. The cases seemed to be getting more and more serious. And I was getting more and more antsy.
"Geez, maybe a sticker violation is really serious in South Carolina," I thought. Plus, I was wearing my new "Ride the Big Blue Wave" T-shirt that soon will be for sale in our new Not Fake News "store" (not open yet). I thought maybe wearing it to a South Carolina court wasn't such a brilliant idea.
Then, my name was called along with a couple other people. The judge quickly disposed of the case in front of me, then looked at me, peering over his glasses rather sternly. The cop who gave me the ticket was standing there so I gave him my receipt showing I was paid up.
"It's paid," I said.
"He's good, your honor," the officer said.
"You're free to go, sir," said the judge.
I gotta tell you...those were good words to hear. I really thought I was headed for the slammer.