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#1 2017-04-05 15:29:41

MichaelBluejay
Webmaster
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 976
Website

Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

KVUE has a "feel-good" story about a stranger paying the $790 of traffic tickets for a disabled woman who couldn't afford to pay them herself:

http://www.kvue.com/news/local/austin-m … /428601103

The stranger is lauded as some sort of hero.  Should he be?  Would we have this kind of article if he'd paid someone's fines for something like theft or vandalism?  To me this seems to perpetuate the idea that traffic tickets are an unfair burden, just another way The Man keeps us down, not that we have any responsibility to drive safely and it's certainly unfair for us to have to face consequences if we don't.

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#2 2017-04-05 19:02:36

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 116

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

I guess it depends on exactly what those tickets were for.  The article says she is legally blind.  If she got a ticket for something she did while driving legally blind, I say Hell No!  If these are just parking tickets, and tickets for non moving things like parking on the wrong side of the road, I wouldn't feel as strongly.

But yeah, my initial reaction was similar.  I am fed up with car drivers getting away with everything up to and including murder.   

$790 seems like a lot of tickets.  I'd kind of like to know that she came away from it with a better sense of citizenship before I use up all of my tissues crying over this story.

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#3 2017-04-05 22:10:24

MichaelBluejay
Webmaster
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 976
Website

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

Thanks Red, I needed some validation on this one.

The article said "traffic tickets", which makes me think that that's distinctly different from "parking tickets", but I could be wrong.

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#4 2017-04-06 14:37:44

Darron
Member
Registered: 2014-05-22
Posts: 66

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

I'll go ahead and play devil's advocate here.  It's possible that the fines she was unable to pay also included additional fines for for failure to pay by the due date (seems likely wiht three tickets).  It's pretty common for people to have small fine that they can't play quickly blow up into something that can damage their financial situation.   $750 is a lot to someone just scraping by and if the choice is spend money on a traffic ticket vs medical bill, people usually choose medical bills.

Are there problems with our justice system that disproportionately affect the poor?  Yes.

Is the woman still guilty of poor driving? Yes.

Did the guy do something nice for someone stuck between a rock and a hard place? Yes.

To me the story was less about the driving infractions and more about the problem with enforcing fines on people who can't afford it.

My 2¢

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#5 2017-04-06 17:18:52

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 116

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

Darron wrote:

It's possible that the fines she was unable to pay also included additional fines for for failure to pay by the due date (seems likely wiht three tickets).  It's pretty common for people to have small fine that they can't play quickly blow up into something that can damage their financial situation.

Yes.   You are absolutely right, and thank you for pointing that out.  Someone very close to me once went to prison for a non-violent drug "crime".   (Why is addiction a crime and not a public health issue?  (I know why, it just makes me mad)).  So, now she has a felony on her record and it took her over a year to finally get a lousy minimum wage job.  She couldn't drive to it because she lost her license and to get another one cost a lot of money she didn't have because she couldn't get to a job.  Yep, then there are fines for not paying things, and late fees, and then having a gap in insurance coverage costs you some more etc etc.  Once you are down you are held down.  It is no wonder that people just go back to a life of crime.  She is struggling to stay on the straight and narrow, but she is hit with one financial burden after another.

I guess I wish the story gave more info.  Sometimes I feel like the news is trying to play my emotions without giving me all of the facts and I end up resenting it.  OK, I will add 'giving a guest lecture on the 5 W's to journalism students' to my bucket list.

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#6 2017-04-06 20:38:54

glockdoc
Member
Registered: 2012-04-06
Posts: 10

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

The best legal system that money can buy, especially in TX

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#7 2017-04-07 13:58:07

Donald Lewis
Member
Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 172

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

RedFalcon wrote:

I guess it depends on exactly what those tickets were for.  The article says she is legally blind.  If she got a ticket for something she did while driving legally blind, I say Hell No!  If these are just parking tickets, and tickets for non moving things like parking on the wrong side of the road, I wouldn't feel as strongly.

But yeah, my initial reaction was similar.  I am fed up with car drivers getting away with everything up to and including murder.   

$790 seems like a lot of tickets.  I'd kind of like to know that she came away from it with a better sense of citizenship before I use up all of my tissues crying over this story.

Her driving at all -- even parking a car -- if legally blind is NOT good.  I would like to think the tickets were from before she became legally blind, but blindness is not usually an overnight condition.

Don

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#8 2017-05-16 14:39:57

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 511

Re: Is it charity to pay someone's traffic fines?

"Legally blind" is kind of ambiguous.  Getting or renewing a driver's license requires vision that's at least 20/40 when corrected, but it's possible that she received her license before she was blind and it hasn't required a restest yet.  Or maybe she was driving without a license.

It's also possible that she's legally blind (legally, vision worse than 20/200 I think) without glasses but glasses can get her better than 20/40 -- in which case, most of us wouldn't call her legally blind at all, and in fact I think the legal definition of legally blind is that your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/2000 ?

Or maybe with glasses she can see well enough to pass the driving test (which, again, requires 20/40 vision) but her vision is screwed up so that she could pass the test but still be unable to see well enough to safely drive?  (For example, if she can see clearly, but only in a tiny area?)

Either way, it sounds like she shouldn't be driving.

It's kind of unfortunate that the laws don't take people with deteriorating abilities to drive more seriously.   Yes, it's unfortunate when age or something else takes away your ability to drive safely, but leaving these people on the roads is even worse.

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