Need TRAFFIC COURT advice: We have to ask the judge to vacate The Cat's conviction...

The Cat Who Walks Alone, who got her driver’s license in August, rear-ended a city bus in November (she didn’t realize it was going to stop for the railroad tracks about 5 blocks from our house). $4,000 worth of damage to the family car ($1,000 deductible :frowning: ), she was OK, nobody was hurt.

The phone rings, “This is the Anytown Police Department, do you have a daughter named The Cat…?” :eek: I walk down there. The cop who handed us the ticket (Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident) said you had two options: you could pay the ticket and thus plead guilty, or you could go down to Traffic Court and fight the ticket. He DIDN’T say anything about the Illinois Traffic Safety program, which is where, if you’re eligible, you can get court supervision, take a 4-hour course, and get the ticket off your record in 2 years.

So I went ahead and paid the ticket, philosophically. “Worse things have happened to teenagers, at least no one was hurt…” They send her driver’s license back. End of story. Then a week later, we get this Traffic Safety brochure in the mail (evidently the two halves of the Circuit Clerk’s Office don’t speak to each other), I think, “Oh, that’s a good idea,” I send in the money and the form, and they send it back within the week, with a Post-It note saying, “We can’t accept this since you already pleaded guilty–call this number if you have any questions”.

It was a busy week–Christmas concerts, snowstorms, etc. I stuck it in the “Pay This” box, with the other bills, where I didn’t come across it again until yesterday, as I was paying bills. (We also got two notifications from the Secretary of State, to The Cat and to the “parents of”, telling us that she now had a conviction on her record. Those also got shoved in the “Pay This” box when they arrived. :rolleyes: )

So. The Circuit Clerk’s office says we can pay another fee, go to Traffic Court, and ask the judge to “vacate the Cat’s conviction” and ask for court supervision, and then she’ll be able to do the Traffic Safety Course and have it removed from her record.

My main question is, (don’t laugh) what do we wear? It goes without saying that the Better Half will use Spot Annual Leave and go with us. The Cat always looks marvelous, but the B.H. and I tend towards the blue jeans/Dockers look. Should we get dressed up? Sunday best? Or more casual? We don’t want to look like arrogant suckups, but neither do we want to look like we just fell off the turnip truck.

Should we take a lawyer?

Is this the sort of thing where everybody shows up at 9 a.m. and they work their way through the docket, so you have to figure on spending the entire day there?

Is it like Judge Judy? Or is it like Night Court?

Casual and clean is fine. Take off hats in court. Be respectful.

Don’t p**s off the judge. Be nice. Judges often don’t have senses of humor. Have The Cat look as sweet and innocent as possible. You know, no biker chains, no 26 piercings, no high heeled pointy toed Goth boots, no red eyeliner, no spiked hair – that kind of stuff.

Take any and all paper work you have because he might ask questions.

Ya’ll should do just fine.

I’ve done the traffic court thing plenty of times. You don’t need to wear a suit or anything. The Docker’s look is fine. Don’t wear a hat. Don’t speak any more than you have to. The judge knows why you’re there. Just answer his questions in a courteous manner and things will usually go well for you. AVS is right. Judges don’t have a sense of humor when they’re on the bench. They deal with the same crap day in, day out. So, if you’re respectful to them, they usually appreciate it and you can expect a little leniency. Just my $0.02.

A suit is always impressionable.

Better yet is to delay the appearance as long as possible. Then the cop might not show up, in that case you win.

Not in this case. She’s already pleaded guilty, so there’s no need for the cop at all.

Dress nice, but don’t try to look like a lawyer. And this decision to vacate is probably up to the discretion of the judge, so tell Cat to be humble and apologetic for her mistake of not knowing about the driver’s ed option. Don’t try to say it’s the cop’s fault for not telling her. And Duck, this is her task–you probably won’t get to talk much.

When I went to traffic court to plead guilty (95mph in a 55 zone requires court appearance to set penalty) the Judge could have suspended my license. I dressed in dockers, shirt, and tie (I was going to work anyway afterwards) and answered his questions truthfully. When he asked me what I was thinking at the time I said “I wasn’t” (which was true). My mom also went with me which I think made an impression (I told my parents about it and took responsibility). He was very nice and only gave me a $150 fine and 8 points on the license. I imagine if I went there by myself and dressed in jeans I wouldn’t have had a license for the next 2 months or so.

My guess is that the fact that you’re going with her will help a lot. Just have her answer his questions and be honest. He’ll know if she’s feeding him bullshit that she thinks he wants to hear.

Also, the way they did it here was that everyone sits in the courtroom and waits to be called to the front. Then you go up front and talk to the Judge. Usually it’s a first come first serve thing also. So if there’s not a lot of people before you it shouldn’t take long. You’ll probably only spend a few minutes actually talking to the judge.

Look nice, be respectful. Throwing in a “Sir, Ma’am or Your Honor” always makes a good impression.

First time, newly licensed, didn’t know the system- the judge may want to lecture her a wee bit, but other than that it should go all right. Frankly, she already took responsibility by pleading guilty, so that should help.

No need to worry, it should be no problem.

“Not in this case. She’s already pleaded guilty, so there’s no need for the cop at all.”

Oh, I missed that part.

Well, sure, dress nicely & look repentant.