In late August, I was in Mountain City, Ga. and passed an officer that had stopped a car in a turn lane in front of a gas station. Why the driver didn’t pull into the parking lot, I don’t know. But by the time I spotted the officer walking around the car I was less than five  car lengths away and was not able to change lanes safely and quickly. I would have been past him when I was able to change lanes. In fact there was a car just behind me and we both passed the officer. I didn’t know there was this law, as I stated it had been courtesy to move over and he was not visibly out of his car at the time I first saw him. Even when the officer stopped me for this violation, there were cars that passed us in the right hand lane while he was writing my ticket. This officer didn’t go chase them down like he did me! When he chased me down he butted in-between the other car that was still following me when the both of us passed him, in order to write me a ticket!!
The officer could have issued me a warning, but wrote me the ticket any way. Today I went to court for this fine and was given the full fine of $502. Since I could not afford to pay this fine in full right away I was given up to 12 months to pay it. However, for some reason I am now on probation because I could not pay right away. This will cost me an additional $44 a month. Which means if I take the ten months the probation person is giving me, the total fine will be $950!! Even at minimum this fine will cost me $546 because I have to pay the $44 for this “probation” time to pay the fine. This is almost double the original fine just because I am poor and a single mother with two  children, that lives on a very fixed income [less than $1,000 a month]. I also feel because I don’t live in your county, city or state I was given the full fine possible. I feel like the one being violated!!
Others that were there were told to just be more careful and given no fine at all. Others that had 10+ tickets were given what time they had been in jail as time served and hard economic time people are being fined harshly for violations. When I arrived to the court house in Mountain City it seemed many of the people knew each other and I feel this is a main reason why some of these people there got off with no fine! Officers seemed friendly to people they knew, which is fine, but I feel it had an impact on their fines. I have a good driving record and now have to give up having medical supplies for my diabetes for over four  months just to pay this fine! I am not like a lot of other people out here getting many things for free. I don’t have health insurance; I don’t get food stamps, free housing or anything else. How am I supposed to be able to survive and pay this fine? Medical supplies for my diabetes are over $180 and for my insulin pump supplies and $400 a month for insulin!
I am asking that all Macon County citizens avoid using any business in Rabun County. We need to tell all counties, no matter the state and location, to not pick on the people who are from another location just because they think they can. Because I understand from other sources that Rabun County and its little towns hit “out of state” drivers hard with fines plus fees for any and all violations, this is because they are less likely to fight it. Why should we give them our hard earned money, let’s keep it right here in our own county!
Berita Fox — Otto, N.C.