While everyone else in Laguna was bathing in sunshine Sunday, I spent eight hours in a windowless room doing penance for getting my first moving violation.
In order to have the violation expunged from a heretofore pristine driving record, I was attending the Comedy Traffic School.
It wasn't funny.
Traffic school is one of the options offered if a driver gets a moving violation. You can fight the ticket in court, pay the fine or pay the fine and go to traffic school.
Going to court was out of the question. I was soooo guilty.
On April 1, I was parked on South Coast Highway in front of Cobblers Corner where I had just picked up a pair of shoes that had been re-heeled, after which I was going downtown to do some shopping. Before I pulled out, I checked the Thalia Street traffic signal, which had a red light, stopping cars headed my way. With no cars oncoming, I made a left hand turn onto Anita Street, proving it was indeed April Fool's Day.
The intersection was clearly posted for no left turns, and two motorcycle officers were parked on Anita.
I must say the officers were probably as surprised by my turn as I was by being pulled over. I simply had not seen the signs.
It was my first moving violation and in my ignorance, I asked the officer if I could just pop into the police station and pay the ticket.
No, I was told. You have to wait for notification from the court — in my case Harbor Justice Center.
My insurance broker, a family member, said just paying the ticket probably wouldn't have a major impact on my premiums UNLESS, and that was big UNLESS, I got another ticket within 18 months. Two tickets within 18 months means you can't go to traffic school without a judge's permission and the hours are extended to 12 or even 16.
I am a world-class procrastinator so before I had a chance to put it off, I called for a reservation. The Comedy School advertised a class in Laguna Beach, but no classes were available within the time frame the court had given me, so I settled for Laguna Hills.
For some reason, traffic "fees" are increased if you go to traffic school, and that doesn't include the cost of the class, in my case, $36, exact change.
One man in my class grumbled that it used to be less expensive if you opted for the class. He should know. I overheard him tell a classmate that he goes to class every time he gets a ticket to keep his record clean, which was important because he is a driver in a school district.
Another man said he remembered when tickets cost nothing if you went to the school.
One woman said tickets are so high because cities need the money, but actually the state keeps 85% of the fees, according to the class teacher, Yolanda Choo.
The court allows 90 days after the fee is due to attend a class and provides a list of 27 companies that offer classes in Orange County and a list of 83 online schools — and anyone who knows me at all knows I was not going there.
Choo was a stickler for making sure we did the time for the crime. One young man, who had been tardy coming back from the morning break, also returned from lunch about 21 minutes late and he was ousted from the class. Choo said 20 minutes was the maximum allowed.
She did give him credit for the first four hours.