Sunday, February 8, 2009

My luck with tickets

I tend to follow more police blogs than fire or medical blogs. I think a large part of the reasoning is that I'm already a firefighter and EMT, and it's fun hearing war stories from my brothers in blue.

That being said, a couple of the blogs I follow mention quite often how attitude gets you everywhere, or how some have a sense of entitlement. I'm a firm believer about the attitude thing. Any time I have to transport, I am fully justified in starting an IV so the hospital can have access if they need it. (Nevermind the fact that even on traumas, they tend to ignore our lines and look for their own anyways.) I've had more than one person end up with IV access not because they really needed it, but because they gave me an excuse to want to stick a needle in their arm. Normally, it's my at discretion to gain access on those cases or not.

Anyways, my reason for writing this post is to relay my experiences with the police. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of their company 3 times.

It's December 23rd and I've had a long day. I attended the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty. I spent the remainder of the day with my friend, he was friends with the officer and, of course, quite upset.

It's now 1115pm and I'm headed home. I've got to be up by 5am to get ready for work and I still have to wash my uniforms. I'm cruising down the expressway, jamming away to Life is a Highway by Rascall Flatts, not really paying attention to anything other than the song and maintaining my lane.

As I'm cruising along, I see a car parked in the grassy median to my left. I clearly remember thinking "fuck, cop" and looking at my speed. Just as I was passing him, his brake lights lit up as he was no doubt putting the car into gear. I merged over to the right, hit my hazards, and went up a little farther than normal to get into the nice, large gore area near an exit ramp. I stopped my car, put it into park, rolled down the windows on both sides, and turned on my interior lights.

The trooper (dang, busted by a state cop) was very polite. He asked the usual questions about why I was stopped, why the hurry, etc. I responded that I didn't realize I was speeding until I saw him and looked at my speed, and that I was trying to get home to do laundry and such before work in the morning. He also asked about where I worked, I do have a firefighter's plate on my car.

I didn't volunteer my employment, nor did I ask for a break. The trooper said he'd be back in just a moment to get me on my way. When he returned, I saw the large clipboard and knew I was going to tote one. 87 in a 60.

I pressed hard for my 5 copies, sadly enough, I had a bit of a smile. The trooper was very nice, I had no reason to be a bitch to him.

I did go to court, but not to contest the ticket really. I just didn't want my insurance to go up. I'd come directly from the station after shift change and one of the clerks pulled me aside. I told her I was there for a speeding ticket and just didn't want my insurance to nail me. She offerred to drop the ticket from 17 over, to 14 over if I'd pay it that day. I gladly coughed up the $175 and was on my merry little way.
On a weekend morning, around 655, I get the call to go fill in at another station on the opposite end of the county. Our shift change is at 7. I quickly loaded up my bed roll and gear and hit the road.

As I'm cruising, I see another cop sitting on the right median running LIDAR. I saw him throw the gun into the seat beside him and knew I was the target since I was cruising a bit faster than the cars around me. As with before, I pulled over and waited.

"Lil City PD" is known for being traffic nazis. Just 2 weeks prior they caught my mom speeding. This is the same Lil City PD I'm working with now.

The officer strode up to my window and started to ask the usual, than stopped himself and asked if I worked for "county."

I responded yes, and that I was being sent from "down there" to "up here" to fill in at another station. Our shift change is at 7 and someone couldn't go home until I got there to relieve him.

The officer looked at his watch (time is about 0725), and told me to try and slow it down some, then turned and walked back to his patrol car.

I was in shock! Those guys have the stigma of never letting anyone go and I just got cut loose with a verbal warning!

I stammered out a thank you and continued on my way. Even the guys at the station were in awe when I told them.
Back in July of '08, I was driving to Pittsburg for a long weekend with friends. Somewhere on I-77 in Virginia, there are these very long tunnels that take you right through the heart of a mountain. Having never been through anything like that, not to mention being a visitor to this state, I was looking around at the scenery as much as at the road.

As I exited the first tunnel, there was a sherrif's deputy parked to the left, obviously checking speeds. He started my way so I, once again, pulled over and waited.

At my window, here's how it went as best I can remember...

Deputy: Do you know how fast you were going?
Me: Obviously too fast, around 75 (I think).
Deputy: 76. And do you know what the speed limit is?
Me: 65
Deputy: When you exit that tunnel, the speed is still 55. *points just up the road* It changes back to 65 up there.
Me: *wide eyed* Oh crap.
Deputy: Is there a reason you were driving so fast?
Me: No Sir. I've never seen a tunnel like that and was enjoying it and not paying enough attention. We don't have anything like that in Georgia.

He was laughing as he took my license and other info.

When he returned to my car, he had his amazingly large ticket book on the clipboard. He explained that he hated writing anyone in public safety a ticket, but I was going too far over the limit to be ignored. However, since I was out of state as well, he wrote me for 76 in a 65.

Of course I thanked him for giving me some kind of break on that. After he explained the ways to pay off or contest the ticket, we chatted for a few minutes. We compared a few silly things about departments (I know a lot about my county's PD), laughing about the difference in size of the tickets.

Before parting ways, he told me there was at least 1 more tunnel a few miles up the road. I thanked him again, and we were each on our merry ways after a "have a nice day" was exchanged.

So there you have it. I've been pulled over 3 times, and I earned it all 3. I was cited and later had the speed reduced, let go, and cited with reduced speed onscene.

I'm not going to lie, I still speed. I try to "go with the flow of traffic" and sometimes I go a little bit faster. If I happen to fall into another officer's sights, so be it. The difference is, I use my turn signal when changing lanes, I stay in my lane without weaving, and I try to avoid any other things to draw attention to myself. I also keep my tag and insurance current, and all the lights on my car work. If I get caught doing something wrong, I'll still be just as nice to the officer, and if I get a ticket, I'll pay it off like the good lil citizen I try to be.

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