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.


  1. People talk themselves into getting arrested/cited ALL the time. Never ceases to amaze me.

  2. The car was running and in traffic. Whether it was at a red light or not, is irrelevant, in my book.

  3. "Joe had basically talked himself into a ticket which I was more than happy to oblige." "My attitude or niceness is in direct relation to that of the driver."

    So, really, it has nothing to do with the law; it's all based on your feelings.

    And officers wonder why so many citizens don't respect them anymore.

  4. Anonymous,
    Almost all vehicle code violations are infractions, the lowest classification of laws if you don't include county, city or town municipal codes. To ticket or not to ticket is totally up to the officer. It's called discretion, and with Joe I used my discretion, changed my mind and decided to ticket him.

    "And officers wonder why so many citizens don't respect them anymore." I'm sure you could transpose the words "officers" and "citizens" and have just as true a statement.

    As far as respect is concerned, it's a mutual thing.

  5. Nothing beats a good old-fashioned ticket stacking when someone totally flunks the attitude test! That guy totally deserved it!

  6. "So, really, it has nothing to do with the law; it's all based on your feelings. "

    With that masterful use of logic, I'm guessing that you have talked yourself into all sorts of interesting situations.

  7. "I'm sure you could transpose the words 'officers' and 'citizens' and have just as true a statement."

    No argument from me there. However, who's more likely to get gunned down by surprise at a traffic stop: an officer by a hostile citizen or a citizen by a hostile officer?

    I would think the less Law Enforcement did to agitate its targets -- especially the nasty ones -- the better.

  8. Ha! Idiot! Recently I was in a car with a friend of mine and despite my protests he sorta ran a red light... well it was yellow and he was going sooo slow (a good 10 below the speed limit) that it turned red before we got fully into the intersection.

    Anyway there was a motor cop in the area (A female motor cop I might add!) and he got pulled over. And he's freaking out, saying how he was going to argue etc (*headdesk*). I told him "Just hand her your papers applogise and admit your mistake" He did, and instead of the $200+ ticket he got a $35 by-law infraction ticket.

    It pays to be an adult and Admit your mistake and be respectful A nice motor cop out there might just give you a break!


  9. It makes my day when someone I stop gives me the 'tude', because 95% or more of the people I cite are polite, courteous, respectful, and realize I'm just doing my job, and even if they don't directly say so (a lot do however), know that they were in the wrong. And yes, many of them get breaks from me. But the 5%ers out there? They are the "special" ones! They get extra police service!

  10. A couple of points. Around here the police have a saying "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes". I've worked with police officers for over 30 years, and generally if a person cooperates and keeps their mouth shut, they can walk away without a ticket. There are a million violations of traffic (and other laws) per day per police department. Give the officer a reason to give you a break and he will.

    People talk themselves into tickets and arrests all the time when all the officer wants to do is restore peace, calm people down, and let them go on their way.

    Here is a post on the subject I put up the other day.
    Lessons Learned (Maybe)

    I'll be adding you to my blogroll, hopefully you'll see fit to do the same.


  11. As a non-LEO I've found the best to not get a ticket is just be honest. The last time I was pulled over (and the first time in a very long time) the officer as me if I knew why he'd pulled me over. I just looked at him, visibly sighed, and said "It's probably because of my expired tags". After a short, pleasant, conversation he just "take care of by Monday please" and I was on my way.

    There's no reason to be an ass. Pissing off somebody that holds your future in his ticket book is a really bad and stupid idea.

  12. Too funny :-) Glad you 'got his attention'... Thanks for your service and what you do.

  13. LOL, I absolutely know the feeling. Any copper that does any traffic can identify with that. Great Blog! Looking forward to reading more.

  14. This is why I always assume a police officer is out to be a jerk, and only answer what is asked. Cops aren't my friend. They want my money, and if I open up my mouth to point out how rude they are, then I'll pay for it. There's a special place in hell for overzealous cops. It's right next to the real crooks they sometimes tend to catch.

  15. Anonymous,
    Yeah, that's the place and I hear it's gonna be a really crowded party bus!