Excuses, Excuses.

About five years ago, on my way to work, I received my first and hopefully only speeding ticket, after which I've always been extremely cautious behind the wheel. “Do you know what the speed limit is?” asked the officer who pulled me over, and when I asked if he meant the road on which I was allegedly over the limit, he snapped that he meant anywhere in town. A community notoriously tough on speeders, the limit was 30 MPH, though not posted. I was informed that I'd been going 54 MPH, 5 MPH enough to just put me in the range for an $150 ticket and 6 points off my license. I was doomed.

When I got to work, several people suggested I fight it. One coworker pointed out that he sped repeatedly and always argued successfully. Whether true or not, I was told that if you go to court and the officer didn't show up to testify, you wouldn't have to pay for the ticket. It seemed like a hassle, but the more I spoke to people and went over the events, the more I wondered if I had been going that fast. I'd made a right turn from being stopped and, going up an incline, had somehow accelerated my crappy old car to 54? Most cars were passing me, and I wondered if the radar hadn't detected those. Further research revealed how weather conditions and street signs can interfere with radar, and how mathematical calculations could prove my innocence. At the very least, if I had been over 30 MPH perhaps I wasn't as far over as I'd been charged with and deserved a lesser fine. It was a thin case, but everyone convinced me to at least try.

A court date was set, and I showed up with a folder complete with photos taken at the scene, computer printouts detailing the acceleration capabilities of a vehicle the year, make, and model of my own, and a typed explanation of the events. A waited with a slew of other people appealing various charges that day, until I was called in to a conference room. The officer sent a statement in his place, and the judge barely let me get a few words out before snapping their offer: she would give me “turning without signaling”, which cost $140 and 2 points from my license. I didn't understand a system in which a person could go from a charge he may or may not have been guilty of to something he definitely wasn't guilty of, and a $10 reduction in fine wasn't a lot. The difference in points was of more value however, and outside at the window where I paid my fine, I was given information on a defensive driving course that would count toward clearing those last two points.

This holiday weekend, as with every year, I've seen a lot more officers lying in wait behind bushes or on driveways and side streets. I've seen a lot of people get pulled over. I'm always careful to stay at or below the limit, instinctively reducing speed when I see or anticipate a police car. Recently, when my dad and I disagreed about where we got in an accident a few years ago, finding the old police report took some searching. My dad eventually located it in his files, but in searching through my own room I came across my old case folder. The letter I never got to read to that judge made for some funny reading, so I've decided to share it below. My attention to detail is priceless.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 15th, shortly after 9:00, I was driving to work along the same route I've driven for just over three years. It was slightly cloudy and cold. After making a right turn onto _________ Avenue from __________ Road, I moved to the left lane while a blonde woman in a blue sedan behind me stayed alongside me in the middle lane.

A black car subsequently shot out from ____________ Road across three lanes and was soon tailgating me. After passing ___________ Road as I was slowing for the light at __________ Avenue, I noted that this black car was still following close behind me. I believe the blue car may have continued through the amber light. I came to a full stop and when the light changed to green a few seconds later, made a left as I always do, with the black car close behind, and stopped again between the islands for the light on the eastbound side of _________. Once this light changed and I continued across, lights came on in the radiator grill of the car behind me and I then realized it was a police officer. I pulled over immediately upon this realization. The officer then took my license, insurance card and registration and told me I had been going 54 in a 30mph zone. Having never received a speeding ticket before I was too flustered at the time to inquire about seeing a printout of his radar calibration and reading. He returned with my ticket and license and after thanking him I continued on my way to work.

I've never received a ticket before and I'm sure my speedometer is accurate as it's a good car and my dad, who's a retired police mechanic, takes good care of the car for me. I've since checked the area and measured the distance the officer could have been from the time he first saw me and pulled out behind me. The earliest he could have seen me was from _________ Road at a distance of approximately 588 feet. I would have had to accelerate from 0 to 54 after making the right turn off ________ onto _________ up a slight incline and would have been within his field of vision from the side road within 294 feet. A vehicle traveling one mile per hour will cover 5280 feet. There are 60 minutes in one hour so a vehicle traveling one mile per hour will travel 1/60th of that distance in one minute, or 88 feet. there are 60 seconds in one minute so a vehicle traveling at one mile per hour will cover 1/60th of the distance it covered in one minute, or 1.47 feet. Traveling at 54mph then I would have been covering about 79 feet per second. In the four seconds it took for him to see me, aim the gun and take a reading I would have traveled 316 feet. At the angle ___________ is to _________, I would already be past the point where the gun would be facing me. It is highly improbable that my car could have accelerated to that speed in that short a distance and it seems unlikely that I was traveling that fast.

Drive safe, people.


Blogger b13 said...

ROFL. You are too much ;)

7/06/2008 1:14 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...

Can I keep a copy of that? Just in case?

7/06/2008 10:39 PM  

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