Thursday, May 20, 2010
But I wasn't driving!
There I was, parked in the shade and minding my own business, people watching. I see Joe Citizen roll to a stop in the left turn lane talking on his cellular phone. Joe looked over at me and continued talking on his cell phone. I'm thinking to myself either Joe is a complete idiot or from out of state and unaware of California's cell phone law.
Joe's light cycles to a green arrow and he makes a legal u-turn and begins to drive off in the opposite direction. I decide to conduct a "stop and talk" with Joe.
2WT: Hi, good afternoon. May I get your driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance card.
Joe: What for?
Here's a clue people. Motor cops don't just arbitrarily pull people over for no reason contrary to what you may have heard or believe. If you're pulled over and asked to produce the aforementioned documents by a police officer in the performance of his or her duties, don't begin the contact with any such or similar question.
Don't believe whom ever said that there is no such thing as a stupid question.... because there are such things and "What for" is one of them.
I just looked at Joe through my sunglasses and he needed no further prompting as he begrudgingly handed me his driver's license which just happened to be from this golden bankrupt state of California.
I told him I had stopped him for not using a hands free device for his cell phone.
Joe: "But I wasn't driving, I was stopped." Then followed his attempt to hurt my feelings by saying I had nothing better to do, and why wasn't I out there catching "real" criminals.
I told Joe that I had seen him roll to a stop as he conversed away. Joe was adamant about not driving and therefore no violation had occurred. I again told Joe my observations which he disagreed with and said he'd see me in court.
My original intention was to "catch and release", which was to stop Joe, explain the cell phone law to him, and send him on his merry way being more aware of at least one of the state's myriad of vehicle code laws.
Typically if I am going to write a ticket to someone, I'll usually give them a warning on some other violation which commonly is no current registration paperwork or no insurance card.
Joe had basically talked himself into a ticket which I was more than happy to oblige. I can write tickets fast or really, r e a l l y s l o w. Needless to say, Joe had a very, v e r y legible ticket.
In Joe's haste, he forgot to hand me his vehicle registration and insurance card and him being an adult, I didn't ask him twice for them. I just added them onto Joe's ticket as additional violations.
Do I ticket every driver I stop, no. My attitude or niceness is in direct relation to that of the driver. Nice driver, nice motor cop and possible warning. Asshole driver, asshole motor cop with your personalized invitation to the local traffic court presented to you with a smile by yours truly.
Education or education through enforcement, Joe opted for the latter.
We do give breaks / warnings, but attitude is everything.