Hello, I hope you can help me determine what course of action I should take.
I was recently issued 2 traffic citations here in Florida during an afternoon traffic stop:
1) Careless driving ("aggressive") (civil) $159
2) Speeding (69mph in a 45mph) ("aggressive") (civil) $249
Here is the scenario. I am a 36 year-old male. I was driving home from work, and there is a mile stretch highway, and I thought I would put the pedal down. It was 2 lanes north and 2 lanes south with a turn lane in the middle. I weaved in and out of traffic in the 2 northbound lanes probably 3 - 6 times over the course of 30 seconds and that is when I saw the blue & red lights 2 cars back, and then behind me. A county "traffic division" officer driving a black unmarked SUV had caught me.
He asked me what the rush was and honestly I had no answer other than I apologized to him repeatedly and told him I was just being stupid, because that was the truth. He asked me where I was coming from and I told him I was coming from work. He told me I put people at risk and I may go to jail for what I had just done. I continued to apologize and was very remorseful. He said he will see whether I will be going to jail or not, and he went back to his truck. A little while later he came out and told me I am lucky he's not going to take me to jail, and once again that I had risk many (I think he said "7") peoples' lives back there. However he issued me the 2 above citations. I continued to apologized and I thanked him for not taking me to jail. I signed the two citations. I believe he said that the speeding was 3 points and the careless driving was 4 points, and that I could take a driving class to remove the points for speeding. Then I was free to go.
I rarely drive like this. In fact I don't think I have ever quite driven like I did that day (except once on a closed course in which I earned 2nd place in a class of 30, but that is another story). I feel completely moronic. I have been having a tough time lately, and I made a bad decision that day. Unfortunately he caught me within 30 seconds or so of making that bad decision and so far I am learning a very expensive and tough lesson for being 100% stupid. I usually set the cruise control at 5 over and putz along my 20+ miles to and from work each day, while other driver pass me. This day was really out of character for me.
I was last cited for a blown headlight more than 3 years ago, which I fixed, and provided proof of compliance, and I only had to pay a nominal fee to the county clerk. Prior to that my last ticket was for speeding when I was 19 or 20. That is it.
Now I am faced with simply paying the tickets which I have no problem doing (yikes, $459). Or can I attempt to get out of one of the tickets dropped? I am very worried about having a dirty record now. I think he said the careless driving will stay on my record for 2 or 3 years (honestly can't remember). You know Murphy's Law, I feel like now if I get pulled over again or have an accident, God forbid, that I am now stigmatized as a "careless driver". Also I am worried about my insurance increasing. I have Geico, and my wife and I have been with them for 7 years (since 2003). But I also heard that some insurance companies don't check driving history that often so they may not even catch it. I don't know how true this is for Geico.
Since the officer was what I belive to be a "traffic-division-officer", I'm sure he will show up in court should I decide to contest the charges. And I am not one to be very verbally assertive, esp. in an intimidating courtroom!
What can I do here?:
1) Pay the tickets, take the traffic school online course, and call it a day? OR
2) Fight the tickets, hope that the prosecutor will drop the careless driving, and then I pay the speeding and take the traffic school online course to erase the points. OR
3) Any other options?
What am I risking if I fight the ticket(S)?
I have about 3 weeks to make a decision.
Thank you very much.
Jonny, the "Stupid-Driver-In-Florida"