6.15.2007

Stuff I Learn

I didn't know that exceeding the speed limit is not a crime so long as your speed was still "reasonable and prudent." (Just saw this when reviewing some case law.) From Tollett v. State, 219 S.W.3d 593 (Tex.App. - Texarkana 2007, pet. filed): As argued by Tollett, the offense of speeding requires, in general, proof that the vehicle's speed was not reasonable and prudent. Section 545.351 of the Texas Transportation Code provides: "[a]n operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing." Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.351(a), (b) (Vernon 1999). However, the Transportation Code also establishes maximum speeds which are prima facie evidence that the vehicle's speed is unreasonable. Section 545.352 provides "[a] speed in excess of the limits established by Subsection (b) or under another provision of this subchapter is prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable and prudent and that the speed is unlawful." Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.352 (Vernon Supp. 2006); see also Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§ 545.353, 545.355, 545.356 (Vernon Supp. 2006). Proof of exceeding a speed limit, while sufficient evidence for a jury to infer a finding the speed was not reasonable and prudent, does not conclusively establish that the speed is not reasonable and prudent. "Prima facie evidence" is merely "[e]vidence that will establish a fact or sustain a judgment unless contradictory evidence is produced." Black's Law Dictionary 598 (8th ed. 2004). Although unlikely, a defendant could prove that a speed in excess of the statutory speed limit was reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing. Therefore, the State must allege the speed was greater than was reasonable and prudent. Eaves v. State, 171 Tex. Crim. 670, 353 S.W.2d 231, 232 (1961); see 7 Michael J. McCormick, et al., Texas Practice: Criminal Forms and Trial Manual § 30.42 (11th ed. 2005).

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

So I could argue in court that I had to pee and found it reasonable to go over the speed limit in order to make it to the next available restroom.....as long as I convince the jury...then I'm good.

Anonymous said...

So my speeding ticket of 31 mph in a 20 when I was less than 10 ft from the 30 mph sign might be reasonal and prudent? Especially since the actual stop was way past the 30 mph sign? Maybe I should get an attorney....

Anonymous said...

An example would be driving in heavy traffic on an interstate and vast majority of other vehicles are going 75 or 80. It is prudent, in that instance, to keep up with traffic rather than risk all the passing and vehicles running up on a person's back bumper.

The Devil said...

3:26...they could also rule against you and you could be court ordered to repeatedly watch the annoying commercials for Detrol LA, with the four old dudes kayaking and riding bikes!

Annie Jokely said...

Enough legal mumbo jumbo. Just tell us how to get out of a damn speeding ticket!!!

Anonymous said...

There are other less retarded states that have just such a law. Reasonable and prudent speed limits, and the fines for violating them are usually under $100 and payable right there on the side of the road. No having to go through the bull of the municipal courts.

They're still armed revenue collectors, but they're evolved -- somewhat. I know most Texans don't believe in evolution so it will not happen here.

Anonymous said...

Here ya go, Annie (from the perps point of view, it's VERY LONG - hope it all comes thru) - from www.ehowa.com:

Kids, this is your Uncle Ernie talking here. And your Uncle Ernie's gonna do you a big favor. I'm going to share my years of wisdom and tell you how to get out of a speeding ticket. And trust me -- I know what works -- since starting to drive eleven years ago at the ripe old age of 17, I've been pulled over seventeen -- yes I say again seventeen -- times. Been issued only four tickets. Beat three of em. And the one I didn't beat? I was young and didn't know any better -- just mailed my check in like a dumb ass.

But first, as a preface, let me first speak to the lead footed speed happy engine banger who weaves in and out of traffic stomping on the gas pedal and wont let up until you hear glass and smell sh*t -- I hope you hit a tree and die. Slowly. Alone. In pain.

Let me now speak to the forty-six law enforcement officers on the list (and potentially more if there are any of you who haven't identified yourselves as such...). No, I'm not going to tell anyone to get some whiz bang Binford Radar Detector 9000, and try to pull some 'did you use your tuning fork on your radar gun' bullsh*t after you pull them over. Quite the contrary, you'll see. I'm sure that should you pull over someone who follows all of my guidelines, you'll more then likely let them off with a warning.

I am speaking to the majority of us. The casual every day driver who assumes that a 55 mile per hour speed limit means you can do 65, and the as long as I'm driving with the flow of traffic I'm ok, kind of driver. Because let's be honest, nobody ever does exactly the speed limit anymore.

I'm going to present this wonderful article in five parts.


I. How to not get pulled over for speeding - by avoiding the problem, we render the need to weasel out of a speeding ticket unnecessary, right?

II. How to react in case you do get pulled over for speeding - what are the do's and don'ts when under the prying eyes of Officer Friendly.

III. What do to if you're a balloonhead and get a speeding ticket - loser. But not all is lost, as you can still minimize the damage.

IV. Miscellaneous tidbits - Random factoids and suggestions that don't fit anywhere else.

V. Case Studies - Some of the more memorable times I've been pulled over and what's worked and what hasn't worked


Part I. How to not get pulled over for speeding.

(a). Well, the Captain Obvious answer he is simple -- don't speed. With highway speeding tickets at 65 mph in almost all states, there's really no need to -- you can easily cruise along at 70mph and not a cop in sight will bother you. Late for work? Leave earlier. Gotta get to the store before it closes? Leave earlier. Trying to make good time on that trip to go see mom and dad? Think of how much time you'll lose when you're in your holding cell getting your buttery corn hole gang raped by a bunch of drunk bikers. And if you want to speed through a residential area? Just don't. PERIOD. That's just stupid. My father's a truck driver and by proxy, an excellent driving teacher (also taught me the in's and out's of swearing...trust me when I say he's a good teacher). He always taught me to drive through residential areas like some drooling kid is going to leap out from behind every parked car and chase down his bouncing red ball. I've been driving for ten years, and I STILL follow that rule. Places where people live, work, go to school, and play, are off limits to the zoom-zoom driver. Period. The two or three minutes you might save by hitting light speed through the back roads, as compared to the amount of time you'll spend in jail for running over little Drooling Johnny is *nothing*. If whoever is waiting for you can't stand you being two or three minutes late... then forget em.

(b). Radar Detectors. Useless. Junk. Ka-ka. Nothing but electronic gadgetry designed to give you a false sense of security. I've been pulled over more times with a radar detector, then without. I finally ended up giving it away to my brother, because I didn't want it anymore. For starters, let me first introduce you to instant on or pulse radar, and then to laser guns (LIDAR). Each of which by the time you detect them... Officer Friendly is already filling out your speeding ticket. Radar Detectors make you feel like you're the baddest mf'er out there. They make you feel like you can drive balls to the wall because you've got a clean signal. Clean signal? Well, tell me just how clean your shorts are when you get those flashing lights in your rear view mirror. Pulse radar, laser, even helicopters that track your speed by those white lines marked on the highway all render your snazzy new radar detector virtually useless. And when you do get pulled over, and you do have those bright LEDs and beeping tones when the officer walks up to your window... YOU try and convince him you were speeding by accident.

(c). Your eyes. Are the best radar/laser/cop/accident/hazard detectors you have. Keep your eyes open. Watch the sides of the road for cars pulled over. Watch you rear view mirror for those familiar headlights of the Crown Victoria, LTD, Caprice Classic. (If your state uses other unmarked police cars like Mass does -- you're screwed -- good luck). Early Warning Radar -- watch for brake lights coming on the cars that are ahead of you -- what do they see that you don't? Besides, you want to ease up off you speed when approaching a car on the side of the road anyway, because Drooling Johnny could be chasing a spare tire. Also watch for other passenger vehicles driving towards you, which are flashing their headlights. They're trying to warn you about something ahead -- maybe something in the road, accident ... or a cop running radar from the bushes.

(d) Flow of traffic. Think that you're invulnerable just because you're driving with the flow of traffic? Well, my answer to this is simple and was most eloquently described in a fishing joke. Cop pulls a guy over for speeding, whose defense was, I was just going with the flow of traffic. Cop's response... Ever go fishing? -- Yeah -- Ever catch ALL the fish? -- Catch my drift? The “I was going with the flow of traffic defense doesn't work. More on that later.

(e) Lane choice. Simple. Left lane bad. Middle lane good. Right lane bad (unless there's no middle lane, in that case right lane good). Cops running radar on the side of the road will hit the outer lanes first. Besides the middle lane drive at a more reasonable pace, so see rule 1A above.

Part II. How to react in case you do get pulled over for speeding

(a) 90% of the cops out there are NOT a**holes.

(b) 90% of the cops out there are NOT a**holes.

(c) Let me say this one more time... Cops are not a**holes. If one has pulled you over? Guess what dumb dick, you deserved to be pulled over. You were speeding. This whole, I wasn't speeding you must have measured someone else excuse? Bullsh*t. Your radar readings were off because I was too close to high power lines. Donkey Dumplings. The purpose of a cop on traffic duty is not to arbitrarily bust the balls of anyone doing 56 in a 55 zone. The purpose of a cop on traffic duty is not to blindly sweep the broadsword of justice in an attempt top raise revenue for his town. The purpose of a cop on traffic duty is to keep the a**holes who do drive their cars like nut jobs from smashing into the vehicles filled with our moms, dads, wives, husbands, and children. If a cop pulls you over, there's a reason. Don't be a piece of sh*t and deny it, because you're only kidding yourself. Bottom line was you WERE speeding. Be it by 5, 15, or 500 miles an hour, you were speeding. So shut the hell up and take your medicine.

(d) Cops Safety. This is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR. I can NOT stress this enough. How many times have we seen those police video clips where a cop pulls over a car for a burned out taillight, goes up to the driver's side window and gets shot 4,295 times by the wacked out drug delirious dick wad behind the wheel? Lots of times? Well guess what... so have the cops. If you are unlucky enough to get pulled over, one of the best things you can do in your defense, is to let the officer know you're not a threat to him. Before he approaches your window... have BOTH hands on the wheel where he can see them. Turn your radio off. Have anyone in the car with you put their hands in a visible position. If there's a pair of cops, one approaching each side of your car, put BOTH windows down. If its night time, turn your interior lights on. If your windows are tinted, lower ALL your windows. If it's raining and you're going to get your imported Italian sheepskin leather seats wet -- too bad. The cop's going to be in a much more forgiving mood if he doesn't have to worry about your passenger Pablo coming up with a 9mm Glock from the back seat.

(e) Location. This goes closely with the safety rule above. Should you see those magical flashing lights in your rear view mirror, and can't pull over in a safe location immediately (i.e. no breakdown lane, or you're on an exit ramp for example)... stick your hand out of your window...give a thumbs up to the cop and point ahead to where you intend to pull over. This lets him know you're not ignoring him, and thus soothes the savage beast. And when you do pull over, move as far right as possible, so that when the officer is at your driver's side window, they'll be shielded from ongoing traffic. Remember, a happy, secure police officer can mean a forgiving, only-warning-giving police officer. And put your four way flashers on as well.

(e). Respect. Harsh truth kids. That officer at your window... whether or not it's a he or a she, whether or not he has pimples or she has little tits, whether or not he's good looking or her she walks with a limp, has the power to take that instrument of death strapped to their waist and start a blasting. They can take your license, your car, your freedom and if they feel so inclined your life. They have the ultimate power. Accept this. Treat them as such. Learn these phrases: Yes sir, No ma'am, Absolutely officer. Treat them with respect, and they'll treat you with respect. Most cops are NOT a**holes. And don't 'yes sir no sir' them to death -- that gets dry. If you think to yourself that you're starting to sound like a broken record, then guess what balloonhead, you probably are. In the ongoing war between speeding driver and ticketing cop, you've just been taken prisoner of war. And in this prison camp, all they serve is humble pie, so eat your slice. And if it's a female cop, eat an even bigger slice, because little girl cops don't get as much respect as little boy cops. So compensate for it.

(d) License and Registration. We've all watched Dragnet. We know what they're going to ask for. Shouldn't you have it ready? In a word... NO. Should you have them readily available where you can get them within five seconds of being asked for them? Yes. Should you have them ready? No. Why not? Because here's what happens -- right after you pull over, you lean over to the glove box on her passenger side and get your registration, like a good little driver. Here's what the cop sees -- as he pulls this person over, they lean over to their glove box for a few seconds and they sit back upright. Are they stashing some drugs? Getting a weapon? Hiding something? Hmmm. When the cop wants your paperwork, he'll ask for it. Have it readily available -- you shouldn't have to go searching through 37 Dunkin Donuts napkins, 4 oil change receipts, 7 pictures of your ex wife's tits and 19 used condoms to find it. And after you hand it to the cop... Both hands back on the steering wheel. Sudden grabs under your seat to get that quarter you dropped last week and HIGHLY discouraged.

(e) Passengers. Your job here is very simple. You play a game called, Shut the hell up, sit still, keep your hands on your lap, and speak only when spoken to by the officer.

(f) Playing Dumb? One word: Don't. Oh gee officer, I was passing everyone like they were standing still, I've left a pile of wrecked cars behind me, but I have no idea why you're pulling me over. >innocent blink< >innocent blink< Any excuse you can possibly come up with, trust me, that cop's already heard a dozen times already. (Granted, the one guy who intentionally sh*t his pants as he got pulled over, and then got out of the ticket by convincing the cop he had diarrhea, was rather resourceful). Don't piss the cop off by making then take the extra effort to explain why you're a dumbass. These excuses will not work: I'm late for work/doctor/pick kids up/whatever, I was going with the flow of traffic, You must be mistaken I wasn't driving 75mph, I thought the speed limit was 80, officer, Well *my friend* the town selectman said he was going to raise the speed limit on this road. Try to use them and your next excuse will be to your boss because you have to take time off work for traffic court. This excuse has the best chance of success: You're right officer; I was going a little fast. I was distracted and I can assure you it wasn't intentional and that it will not happen again. Not that aiming a 4,000 hunk of metal down the road while you fiddle with your radio stations is necessarily a good practice, but the cop will respect you for coming clean and not wasting his time by breaking his balls. Cops respect honesty. Not the "Well, I've had 18 beers and screw you too" type of honesty, but rather the well, you caught me, now what? honesty. Pretending you don't know the speed limit, or thought the speed limit was 5-10 miles over what it really is, or just driving as fast as everyone else -- ain't gonna get you dick sh*t. Trust me, trust me, trust me. You ain't fooling them. Best to spill the beans and hope to catch a break then to feed him a line of sh*t that's going to give him indigestion and make him irritable.

(g). Back To Their Car. This is perhaps the second most important part in not getting a speeding ticket. NEVER EVER EVER EVER let a cop take your license and registration back to his patrol car, without getting your explanation in first. NEVER EVER EVER. If the cop heads back to his car without hearing your side of the story first, then you have ZERO chance of catching a break. Nada. Zero. Zip Zilch. As you're handing your license/registration over to the cop, explain to him that you believe you know why he pulled you over, you were going a little fast, you were having a really good day, weren't paying attention, didn't mean it, won't happen again, you'll be a good little boy/girl. Even if the cop acts like he's not paying attention, believe me, they are. You just make sure he's heard your side of the story before he heads back to his cruiser to run your drivers license through and make sure you're not a wanted felon. Even if you only convince them a little bit, then you've at least got a little bit of chance to catch a break. Once the ticket's written it CAN NOT be ripped up. There is no 'take back' once their pen has touched the ticket form, because they're all serial numbered and every single one has to be accounted for. So you have to get them BEFORE they break out the Bic. Cops are not a**holes. Cops are human beings. EVERY cop gives someone a break form time to time. You do what you can to make sure you're one of those select few.

Part III. What do to if you're a balloonhead and get a speeding ticket

(a) So you tried to be as un-intimidating to the cop as possible, and still you wound up getting a ticket. Sucks to be you! Take comfort in the fact that since you were speeding you do deserve the ticket and the worst you can do is get what's coming to you. On the back of your ticket there's usually the part to fill out whether or not you want to plead guilty or not guilty. ALWAYS ALWAYS plead not guilty. NEVER EVER plead guilty. Why? Not because you're trying to bust balls. But at because every single traffic court I've ever been to, the prosecutor has ALWAYS been willing to bargain, in the interest of getting the matter settled quickly. Always. Just by showing up in court, you'll stand a good chance at getting the charges significantly reduced, if not dropped altogether. This also affords you the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor -- who is a human being and we all know human beings give people a break from time to time. Your chances are also significantly increased if you already have a clean driving record, and/or if you approach the prosecutor willing to make amends. Nobody wants this case to go to trial, so make sure it doesn't.

(b) Don't challenge the cop's testimony. I've read a few books, seen a few websites -- that suggest going to trial and pulling the well officer, did you use your tuning forks in accordinance with state laws bullsh*t. In my opinion, unless you're an honest to goodness lawyer (no pun intended), don't go here. Not only do you stand a good chance of screwing up and sh*tting all over your own shoes, but you also stand a good chance of pissing the cop and prosecutor off. For all you know, the officer testifying against you could be the godfather to the judge's son. If this court's local to you, that means you're likely to see this cop again, and having embarrassed him in court is not going to make him recall you too fondly. Not to mention cops network. If the cop says you were speeding, then guess what brother, you were speeding. Accept this as truth and work with it. Try to be your own little Parry Mason and they prosecutor -- who has seen your type come and go a hundred times -- will eat you alive. And don't piss and moan over little inconsistencies on the ticket -- Your honor, the officer wrote on the ticket that my vehicle is green, while you can clearly see in this picture my car is turquoise. It's your ticket, and playing tomato or tomatto isn't going to get you anything but screwed'o.

(c). Dress for success. I'm not saying you have to show up in a business suit, but a rule of thumb is wear something that you'd wear to a nice restaurant. Your jeans with the ripped knees and your faded Iron Maiden concert t-shirt ain't gonna get you far. Look like a responsible person who merely wasn't paying attention for a few minutes, you're not a clueless a**hole and you might get the better end of the stick.

Part IV. Miscellaneous Tidbits

(a). Bumper stickers. Choose them wisely, my prodigal son. Personally , I avoid any bumper sticker that is related to any hot issues -- politics, abortion, gun control, even sports. Why? Well, me, I hate the Buffalo Bills. One of the only few Raider games I went to see was at Buffalo -- 26 degrees with a wind chill of -40. My feet were so cold I had to take my gloves off and put them on my feet to get any feeling back in them. And the Bills won 30-27. This was winter of 1988. And I say to you now, that if I were a cop and pulled over some bastard with a Buffalo Bills bumper sticker, I'm going to ticket that prick for everything I'm worth. And I'm going to make his 17 year old daughter blow me while I'm at it. And if you've got a bumper sticker like, Bad cop! No donut! -- well, pretty much...you're screwed.

(b) Car color. Speeding ticket red. Speeding ticket yellow. Neutral black. Neutral Green. Neutral Blue. Slow white. Slow brown. Queer purple.

(c) Vehicle maintenance. Remember, the cop's job is to keep the roads safe. And even though they won't admit it, most cops won't even bat an eye if you break the speed limit by 5-6 miles an hour. But mechanically speaking, a brand new Audi TT Quattro is a whole lot more capable of doing 80mph then your beat up 1974 Chevy Impala with four mismatched tires and squeaky rear brakes. A cop's got to take this into consideration also.

(e) The a**hole Cop. While 90% of the cops I've ever had the delightful pleasure to meet on the job have been very courteous, polite, understanding and generally concerned with the welfare of the public, you will occasionally meet a F*cking A**hole Cop (FAC). I've met one. He was one of the tickets I got (beat that one). Should the gods frown upon you and place this FAC in your path, just sit down, keep your mouth shut, resist the urge to call him a cock sucker, and start making your plans for speaking to the prosecutor about your case. I'd *like* to be optimistic and say that all cops are good people and the only time you'll run into a FAC is when they've just simply had a bad day, but who knows. Cops are people too -- they have fights with spouses, sick children, a**hole bosses of their own, letters from bill collectors, etc, keep this in mind then explaining yourself in rule 2f above, and that might be to your advantage.

(f) Military. If you're in the military, you can for the most part drive wherever you want, whenever you want, however fast you want. When the cop asks for drivers license and registration, hand him your military ID also. They'll inevitably say, I didn't ask for this. And you reply in your best basic-training-broken-spirited-i-am-a-sheep-who-respects-all-authority voice that, Well, my first sergeant said that anytime we had any interaction with the police of any kind, we had to identify ourselves as US military. This shows Mr. Police Officer two things: one, you normally follow the rules; and two, you're in the military so you're at least not some wacked out drug dealer who's going to pull a 9mm Glock on them. Not to mention the overwhelming majority of cops out there are prior-military themselves, thus spawning feelings of instant camaraderie because you both shared the uniform and both got paid dick sh*t while you were in. A US Military ID is pretty much a get out of jail free card, unless you're a complete and total jerk to the cop, you're speeding on a military base (duh), or you're in Singapore.

(g) One person states that their cop friend would have the tendency to let people go if they had a hard time finding their registration. The mind set being if they don't know where their registration is, then they haven't needed it in a long time, so they must not have been pulled over in a long time. This strikes me as kinda dumb. Granted, this person was from Alabama, so you do the math. If it was me, I'd get pissed off waiting, get tired of you wasting my time, run your plates and give you two tickets.

(h) A Rabbit. Personally, I prefer this technique, should I be on the interstate on a long drive. Find a car traveling about the same speed that you would LIKE to be traveling. Drive slowly until he passes you, and then scooch over into his lane and ride about 1/4 mile behind him (if you're European and can't translate 1/4 mile into kilometers, touch luck). Should the our rabbit pass a speed trap, the officer will flip on his lights and start to make his way to merge into traffic, thus giving you sufficient time to slow down and blend in like any other good little driver. If things go off as planned, the cop pulls over our rabbit, and we drive merrily along.

(i) Tits. Believe it or not - and I can't believe I'm saying this but based upon feedback from several cops I have to - you have to hide em girls. Yeah I know, "Who am I and what did I do with Ernie?" Well, one of the cops wrote in with this pearl of wisdom, and I guess it made a lot of sense. He said, "Your badge may get you pussy, but pussy will get your badge." And really girls you only have yourself to blame. You see what happens is these hot bitches will get pulled over and issued tickets... and then they'll file complaints against the officers who ticketd them claiming said officer only pulled them over to flirt and get their telephone number. So, most of the cops who wrote in actually say if they pull over some chick and she tries to turn on her cleavage charm, they write her up for everything they can think of just to eliminate any sense of doubt... speeding, no signal lights, no seat belt, tail light out, throwing out their gum, whatever. So girls, keep those tits covered. God, I can't believe I just said that. Oh, and no crying either. That's just annoying and makes us want to slap you.

(j) Weapons. Laws vary by state to state regarding the carrying a weapon in your vehicle, so you're on your own when it comes to following your particular state's P's and Q's on the matter. If you're carrying illegally, I hope the cop shoots you and your passengers dead, and then pushes your car off the side of the road so I have less traffic to contend with. If you are legally carrying a weapon in your vehicle -- ESPECIALLY if you have a concealed weapon permit -- I'd imagine it's be in your best interest to make the officer aware of this as well. Bad way: Yeah I use my Glock 9 to weight down my registration so it doesn't get... blown away... when I have my windows down. Instead perhaps, much like the military ID, I'd present any CCW permit when you hand over your license and registration. Good way: Officer one thing I do want to make sure you're aware of is that I am licensed to carry a concealed weapon, here's a copy of my permit. I just didn't want you to be alarmed should you check my driver's license and find out I'm licensed to carry. Said officer may ask to take control over your little friend during the duration of the traffic stop, and you be a good little doobie and let them. If you're all legal, you'll get it back, and the cop will appreciate your forwardness. This all rolls up into the Cop's Safety rule from 2C above.

(k) Weather. What is a speed limit and how is it established? Check your drivers book -- a speed limit is the maximum speed you can travel based upon various factors: road visibility, proximity to residential areas, historical traffic accident data for that stretch of road, and the most important thing -- is set for IDEAL weather conditions. The 65mph highway speed limit sign means you can travel up to 65mph on a bright, clear, dry, sunny day. If a cop sees you doing 65mph at night, in blinding fog, guess what -- he CAN (and most likely will) give you a speeding ticket. Honest Injun. And considering that he'll have to really put the hammer down to catch you -- thus endangering his own life so that you don't run into a bus load of nuns, he's going to be mighty pissed off when he finally gets to your window. And we all know pissed off cops aren't what we want.

(l) Already pulled over. Is is it safe to go speeding past a cop who's already got someone pulled over? Well, safe for you? Probably. If he's speaking to the other driver (who most likely hasn't read this so doesn't have the knowledge you do and thus will most likely be getting a ticket), then he obviously isn't at his radar gun. I suppose that it could be an elaborate speed trap with one marked and one unmarked police car, just simply radioing ahead to more cops a mile down the road. But let me make one thing very clear. If you DON'T slow down when you're passing a cop involved in a traffic stop on the side of the road -- or a construction crew patching holes, or a guy changing his tire, or kids playing catch, or anything else of that nature -- then you're an a**hole. Let's say that you should slow down 1/8 of a mile before these people and continue 1/8 of a mile afterwards before speeding back up to your regular pace -- for a total of 1/4 of a mile at the lower speed. At 80mph (11.5 seconds) vs 60mph (15 seconds), over that 1/4 mile stretch of road, you'd save yourself a whopping 3.5 seconds. Is that really worth the one in a million shot the the cop trips on a rock walking back to his car and stumbles into the right hand lane? Or trying to control your car after a tire blowout that sends you careening towards the shoulder of the road? 15 seconds.

Part V. Case Studies

August 1989 -- I have had my license all of three days. I am visiting my friend. I am driving home. I am doing 43 in a 30mph zone. I am pulled over. Cop asks me what the hell I'm doing. Cop reads me the riot act and mercifully lets me go without a ticket. it is now I think to myself that perhaps I should develop some sort of defensive procedures.

Winter 1990 -- Traveling northbound on highway, left most lane, and I suddenly out of the blue, a cop who's parked in the right shoulder of the road flips on his lights as I barrel towards him. I am all alone at the head of a big pack of traffic. I look down at my speedometer -- 68 -- speed limit is 55. I am stone cold busted. I immediately take the next exit off the highway, fully intending to get pulled over, while said police officer turns around and maneuvers his car into traffic and proceeds to haul ass down the highway in hot pursuit. I merrily watch from my exit ramp as police cruiser, in full lights display, flying down the highway to beat the band. I make immediate tracks for a shopping mall and park my inconspicuous car among the sea of other salt-crusted cars. I play Centipede. (NOTE: I am lucky as a bastard. Not using my best radar detector -- my eyes, and traveling all alone in the left lane.)

August 1992 -- I am heading westbound on a highway and see a state police cruiser hidden in the weeds on the other side of the median, scanning eastbound traffic. Like a good little team player that I am I vigorously flash my headlights at the next batch of oncoming vehicles, to warn them of the speed trap they're about to rush into. Didn't realize until it was too late that one of the oncoming cars was also a state trooper. Doh. Said trooper does a u-turn and pulls me over. Cop asks me why i was flashing my headlights. I mumble some bullsh*t answer about trying to get my parking lights on and couldn't get the switch just right (hey gimme a break I was only 19) . Trooper rips me a new one with speech about doing their job for public safety, says he knows exactly what i was doing, and then gives me a ticket for an expired vehicle inspection which ran out 3 days before. I have car inspected with 24 hours of ticket being issued and mail into DA stating that I was out of state on military duties. Also spoke with judge on the telephone for about 15 minutes, his son was thinking of joining the Air Force. We chat, charge dismissed. But, I don't flash my headlights for other drivers anymore, sorry. (NOTE: Even the fact that i was in the military couldn't overcome my blundering excuse to the cop -- I firmly believe that if I said, Yep, I was just trying to help other drivers out and warn them there was a speed trap that he would have let me off with just an ass chewing. Tell the truth with no bullsh*t.)

January 1993 -- Myself and a friend are driving back from home to Hanscom AFB, in separate vehicles. I'm leading he's following. It's 2am , the streets are completely empty and we have the cruise control set on 55 as we travel down a two lane road in the back woods. Unfortunately, as we pass from open road to the still deserted streets of Smalltown USA, I never adjusted the cruise setting. Cop bags both of us for doing 53 in a 30.... says we were 'drag racing'. (Don't drag racers drive side by side and not one in front of the other?). First run in with FAC - makes me empty everything (and I had a lot of sh*t too) from the front cab of my pickup truck so that I can get my registration out of the glove box, in -9 degree weather. I wrote the DA and argue to get charges dropped. DA responds with reduction to 39 in a 30. I agree and DA sends me a bill for $125 dollars. I tell DA to piss off and for the fee of $45 change my drivers license to the state I was stationed at the time, gotta love those southerners.

September 1993 -- While traveling through a small town, I sincerely overlook a sign that lowers the speed limit from 30 to 20 for a construction zone. Crusty 100 year old cop ON FOOT, flags me over to the side of the road. Walks up to the window and starts laughing at my radar detector. Says he's pulled over more people with detectors then without. Says I was doing about 28-29 mph. I am awed. He lets me go after my repeated apologies and promise to be more attentive. (NOTE: Points made on radar detector and fessing up to the truth)

March 1994 -- Late at night, around 11pm'ish, I get pulled over doing 53 in a 30 zone. (You'll see this as a reoccurring theme). Entire encounter with this police officer lasts under 20 seconds. Conversation is as follows:

Cop: Drivers License and Registration please
Ernie: Hands drivers license, registration...and...dum dee dum... military ID card.
Cop: Where ya heading tonight in such a hurry?
Ernie: Home, Sir.
Cop: Where's home? Ernie: Rochester NY.
Officer: Where you coming from?
Ernie: Hanscom Air Force base in Massachusetts.
Officer: Are you in the military?
Ernie: Yes Sir.
Officer: Drive carefully


July 1998 -- After exiting the highway and traveling down a two lane city street, I get bagged doing 53 in a 30 zone. This time I make the fatal mistake of not explaining my side of the story to the cop before he goes back to his cruiser. he gives me ticket and I ass'plain how I was just having a sh*tty day and wasn't paying attention. Cop scratches his head and says if I had said that earlier, he might have just given me a warning, but he'll scribble a note to the DA on his ticket stub. When I show up for traffic court, the prosecutor (Police Sgt in this case) makes me the deal -- either do 8 hours community service or take AAA driver safety course. Driver safety course is $45 for non AAA members, $35 for members. I'm a member. My time's worth more then $4.35 an hour, so I elect the course. So I spend the following Saturday afternoon in a room with a 50'ish male instructor, one 50'ish other male student, one 16 year old male student, and ten 16-17 year old teenage student-chicks. It's summer, so they're all wearing t-shirts. It's air conditioned inside, nice and cold. Everywhere you look there were nipples poking out. I am in heaven. Course completes, I mail certificate to the court, charge dismissed. (NOTE: Explain yourself before the cop writes ticket, work with the DA for alternatives to guilty plea)

November 1998 -- Driving home on NYS thruway, eastbound, right lane, cruise set at 65mph (speed limit). There's an older Saab coming up on my left doing that I'd guess to be about 75-maybe 80. Snaab driver has a radar detector on his dashboard -- I see it as he whizzes past. I see one lone car parked on the top of an overpass, driver's side facing us. There is someone in the car. Looks like he's holding something up. This looks odd to me. My spidey senses go off. I sit back and watch. Man in car on overpass then holds something to his mouth as we pass under him. As we clear the other side of the overpass, I can see a state trooper coming down the entrance ramp on my right, lights on. He merges into traffic and bags... the Saab. (NOTE: Radar detector -- 0, Keeping your eyes open and being an alert driver -- 1)

November 1999 -- On small two lane highway following a few cars in the left lane, we're all doing about 62 in a 55. We pass a cop who has someone pulled over on the right side of the road. Goddamn car full of teenagers ahead of me start to sh*t bricks and slow down to 48 miles per hour in the left lane. I kick off cruise control and end up coasting up pretty close to them before they begin to pick up speed again and pull away back to a reasonable following distance. Cop on side of road happens to look over when we're at our closest point -- about four feet. Cop finishes his roadside stop and merges into traffic. Kids ahead of me are sh*tting bricks and immediately move to right lane, exactly 55 mph, two hands on the wheel, eyes straight ahead, looks like he's got a load of sh*t in his pants, etc, etc, etc. Young kid stuff. I resume cruise at 62 and continue merrily along my way. Cruise comes up behind me, but I'm not shaken, no way, nuh uh, not me sir. I continue merrily along at 62mph. After all, the cops always give you a few miles per.....woo woo woo woo woo... I can't believe it. This guy's pulling me over! So he gets me over and I'm a good little boy, pull right over, give him room, both hands on the wheel when he approaches, etc. he gets up to the window and this kid can't be any more then 22 years old. He's still got pimples!!!! I'm thinking to myself, You have got to be kidding me. But none the less, pimples or no pimples, he's obviously passed the requirements to become a Mass state trooper, so let's play ball. I go through my 'didn't think anything of it' speech, and how I thought 62 was perfectly acceptable in a 55 zone in mild traffic on a perfectly sunny day, yes sir, no sir. He takes my stuff back to his car and I'm going bullsh*t. I'm steaming. I can't believe I'm going to get a ticket for this -- seven miles over. So he comes back and gives me -- dum dee dum -- a written warning. Wow, my first written warning. He goes through the speech he has to do, you know, 55 mph speed limit means 55, not 56, not 57, not 62, but 55. I do the yes sir, no sir thing, and we part ways. No harm done. (NOTE: Give respect no matter how young they are, male or female, and make sure you get the chance to tell your side of the story).

Now, am I advocating speeding? of course not. Am I offering any type of guarantee that if you follow my tips, you'll get out of every speeding ticket? No, of course not. But if you do, I'm sure you'll have much better odds. Learn from my errors. Become one with my wisdom.

Well kids, that's all I've got. If you're a cop, and ONLY if you are a cop, and have some feedback, comments, and suggestions or would like to share your experience on this matter, please send me an e-mail.

Speed safely!

Anonymous said...

Hey Barry, does this mean if I was driving too fast to worry about my cholestrol level and employed a good lawyer that a) I could expect fovorable treatment from the authorities and b) probably get a good deal from the lawyer?

Anonymous said...

Remember this, if you are speeding you are speeding, I know everyone does it but you are speeding.... and you must pay the piper. Why question the real talk???

Anonymous said...

Annie, bet you watch out what you ask for next time.....i fell asleep at # III

Anonymous said...

wow, 5:11, that was long but very informative and entertaining. I agree that law enforcement deserves respect for a very dangerous job, but respect is a two way street. Having the ability to take my life does not give a law enforcement officer the right to do so any more than I, as a civilian, have the right to do it, but I do know better than to argue with somebody carrying a gun.