Sketchbook Pages

Dangerous Driver Goes to Traffic Court and Plays Courtroom Sketch Artist

The Trials Begin
Traffic Court: The Trials Begin

If you want to sketch people while hearing amusing stories, try spending the morning in traffic court as I did today. Hoping to plead for a reduced fine on my $425 ticket (crazy story here) I arrived early to find a line of about 40 people ahead of me waiting for the doors to the building to open at 8:00.

Finally we snaked in and through the metal detector. Unfortunately I’d forgotten that my trusty Swiss army knife was in my bag, along with a camera. After a thorough search of my bag, I was detoured back to my car to put away the contraband, then back to stand in line and back through the metal detector. Next I stood in line to check in at Room 105.

Guilty, guilty, guilty
Guilty, guilty, guilty

Then it was off to the courtroom to wait my turn. First the dozen people who had actual court dates (because they’d pled Not Guilty previously) and the cops who’d cited them told their stories. Despite convoluted explanations, pleas for reduced fines, photographic evidence and various witnesses, the judge found them all guilty and made them pay their full fines, only offering extended payment options.

An hour later we were shown a video describing our rights while the Spanish speakers were called to another section of the room and were given the same information by an interpreter.

Traffic court video, ink & watercolor in sketchbook
Traffic court video, ink & watercolor in sketchbook

It began to sink in that I’d be there for several more hours and that the judge was not going to reduce my fee. During a break in the proceedings, I decided I’d had enough fun sketching and returned to Room 105 to accept my punishment, pay the ticket and sign up for traffic school (another $35).

While it totally sucks to have to pay nearly $500 in hard-earned money AND spend hours doing traffic school, there are some positives to be grateful for:

  1. I got to do a lot of sketching while listening to interesting stories.
  2. I have the money to pay the ticket, even though it has to come from my savings.
  3. Since getting the ticket I’ve become a much more careful and conscious driver.
  4. No people or cars were injured, just my pride.

6 replies on “Dangerous Driver Goes to Traffic Court and Plays Courtroom Sketch Artist”

Loss of our money and pride hurts, I know, but agree that it could have been much worse, and am thankful, also, that no one got physically hurt. I did the very same thing on a small side road, ten years ago (one doesn’t forget, you see) in Connecticut. BUT(SIGH) I didn’t get any sketching done like these wonderful ones with their stories, Jana.


What a wonderful set of drawings and stories. You did not waste your day – but I sympathize with your own story in it. Watching people in court (I’ve only done it twice – once was with a writing class to observe people, the other with my well-dressed son on a driving charge when he damaged our precious Volvo when blinded by the rising sun!) provides plenty of opportunity for drawing, but didn’t you get reprimanded for doing so?


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