Once you know a little bit of law, it can make you dangerous, even if inadvertently.

In this case, my son had the brakes on our car fail, and he lightly tapped the car in front of him (which tapped the car in front, which tapped the car in front, which tapped the car in front). There was some minor bumper damage, though the damage to our car was only a crease in the front license plate. Ian knew all the people in all the cars: they were all members of the Pickerington North High School Band percussion section.

That would have been it except that a guard at the Kroger there called the police, so the cop gave Ian a ticket for failure to maintain an assured clear distance.

It just didn't seem to me that the accident was really Ian's fault, so I worked at trying to talk to the prosecutor to get it reduced to brake failure. The actual charge is "operating an unsafe vehicle." ("Assurred clear distance" has 2 points on your license; operating an unsafe vehicle has none.) Nobody would talk to me before the arraignment, so at the arraignment, Ian denied the charge, and then I talked to the prosecutor. Before the trial, she offered the plea deal. I later found out that such a plea deal is almost always offered (if you ask for it) if it is a first offense and nobody was injured (which fit this case).

So, at the trial, the plea deal was made and accepted. The Magistrate (they use, not a real judge, for juvenile traffic court, but a magistrate; before becoming official, the judgment of the magistrate has to be approved by the judge) gave Ian a chance to tell him what happened, and then sentenced Ian to a 30-day license suspension, an $11 fine (this was obviously chosen so that, when added to court costs, it came to a round number), traffic school, and the writing of a 500-word essay.

This annoyed me, since it was the same sentence that had been given to my daughter 4 years previously when she had run a stop side and got T-boned. Clearly, the Magistrate was ignoring the fact that Ian had brake failure, not that he had been inattentive.

So, I filed an Objection to the Magistrate's Order.

And things went downhill from there.

You can read the rest of what happened by looking at the comments I've added to the


and following along.