On February 19th, as I was arriving to work, I received an SMS (which is what they call text messages here) from the UAE Traffic Authority. This is what it said:
My initial reaction was CRAP! But then I found it slightly humorous. The tone of the SMS was just so darn friendly that it was hard to take it too seriously. I wasn’t even sure if it was a ticket with a fine or just a warning. I had to check the Abu Dhabi police department website to find out that I had in fact received a fine. It is a 600 dirham fine that as long as I pay in a timely manner will be reduced down to 300 dirhams (~$82 US). Unfortunately, it doesn’t give many details. It only tells me that I committed the offense in Al Ain at 5:40pm. It doesn’t give me a location, but based on the time, I narrowed it down to when I was driving home from Pizza Hut. Guess I was speeding so the pizza wouldn’t get cold. So, lesson learned. For the past month, I have been extra cautious about my limit. Most of Al Ain is either 60 or 80 Kph (unless you are on the highway to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, then the limit is 120, but according to the signs, you are allowed a maximum speed of 140 before being issued a ticket).
Then this past weekend, I went to Dubai for the TESOL Arabia conference. I woke up on Friday morning to this SMS:
This time I wasn’t amused! Seriously!?! I thought I was being so careful! Grumble, grrr. Not a good way to start the morning. Then, I went down to my car and found this on my windshield:
You have to be kidding me!?!? I could swear I was parked in hotel parking. But after talking to the hotel attendant, I found out that the sign that says “Hotel Parking” was only referring to the parking structure, not the regular spots. I apparently didn’t see the sign (all the way at the other end of the sidewalk) that said “Paid Parking”. In Al Ain, we don’t have paid parking, so I guess that didn’t really enter my mind to pay for parking in Dubai.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t in a great mood after that. I spent half of the conference trying to get onto the police website from my mobile to see how much my new speeding ticket was for – another 300 dirham fine. Based on the website, I was issued the ticket at 4:50pm, which would have been right on my way to Arabic class. I think what happened is that the speed is only 60 Kph near the Mayan Sacrifice Roundabout, and I have always thought it was 80. Of course this is just a hypothesis since the website doesn’t even tell me how fast I was going.
I haven’t paid for the tickets yet. I tried to pay online, but as usual, my online credit card was having some issues. I am debating on going to the traffic department to plead my ignorance to see if they will reduce the fees a bit more. I figure it can’t hurt. They will either see me and think “Oh, stupid American woman driver” and reduce the amount. Or they will see me and think, “Oh, stupid American woman driver” and feel pleasure at not reducing the fees (they can’t increase the fees, right?). If I turn on the womanly charm by batting my eyelashes and flipping my hair, will I increase the likelihood of the first or second scenario of happening?
Lesson learned for real this time. Pay more attention and slow down.