I am not a fan of the Champaign County Courthouse. Let me explain.
I was an idiot. I thought I had my insurance card in my car. I was pulled over and rightfully issued a ticket for driving an uninsured vehicle. It was insured. I just wasn’t able to show proof.
The cop gave me the ticket and told me directly that all I needed to do was to go to the courthouse, show the city clerk that I had insurance and the ticket would be dropped. Today, I attempted to take care of business. It was an ordeal I’m not looking forward to ever having to do again.
I had never set foot in the Champaign County Courthouse even though I worked across the street from it for over a year. I had no need to be in there. So, I attempted to find a parking place in the courthouse parking lot. This was a joke. All the parking spaces were either reserved or paid-for parking. I was not happy. The nearest metered parking was across the street and down a block. I learned later that parking around the courthouse is a bitch with some people having to park blocks away in a parking garage. I count myself reasonably lucky.
I dutifully gathered my insurance information and my ticket and walked to the courthouse. Passing through the glass doors I spied a metal detector. That didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the overweight female officer who told me in no uncertain terms that cell phones were not allowed in the building. I asked if there was a place to hold them. She informed me to put it back in my car.
So, I walked back to my car and dropped off my cellphone and walked back. Again, it made sense, but it was annoying. I walked back to the metal detector, took off my coat, belt and put my keys, watch and wallet in the tray.
Before I could walk through the gate, the officer informed me that my mini-Leatherman would not be allowed. I’m pretty sure I’d flown with the damn tool on my keys, but this woman wouldn’t allow me in. She informed me that nothing that could be used as a weapon was allowed. I’m pretty sure my keys themselves were more threatening and have a greater chance of injuring someone versus my nearly 10 year old, partially rusted out, Leatherman.
So again, I walked back to my car. This time I unload all my extraneous material: belt, watch, notebook and cellphone. I walked back to the entrance, put my coat, keys, wallet and ticket/proof of insurance info in the bin so the X-ray eyes could see essentially my coat, keys, wallet and ticket/proof of insurance info and walked through the damn metal detector.
I then strolled over to the information desk because I have no idea where to go, let alone where the city clerk’s office is. There were no helpful signs.
The information lady was kind and as I explained my situation and she pointed me in the right direction. Finally, someone who was nice, polite and helpful. I proceeded to the city clerk windows, explain my situation and was informed they could not take my proof of insurance at the window. Something about a new judge and I would have to go to court. The cop lied (or was misinformed).
At this stage of the events about 20 minutes have passed. First, I had to drive all the way to Urbana to get to the courthouse. I’ve walked back and forth from my car three times and now this person informed me all of my trials and tribulations were a big fat waste of time.
After talking with my attorney, I was informed what will happen is that I will prove to the court I had insurance and probably have to pay a smaller fine. A waste of the court’s time and mine.
To be fair, I learned an actual bomb went off at the courthouse a year or so ago and they’ve had shootings. In retrospect, I guess I should be thankful I’m not intimately familiar with the Champaign County Courthouse.
Still…what a pain in the ass.