Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

Moving Violations
Matt Seinberg

My friend Mike and I were talking at lunch today, and he was updating me on something that happened on his vacation, in Canada, last June. His son was driving between Montreal and Quebec City and somehow the Mountie, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was able to tell that they were using a radar detector, which it turned out is illegal in Canada. The best part is they weren’t speeding.

The funny thing is that they had no idea and not only about the law. Ignorance of the law is never a defence. The radar detector was not working. There was no audible alert. Still, the Mountie knew what was what.

They were pulled over, the detector confiscated. The cop wanted to take the wiring as well, but for some reason much of it was in the headliner. Unless he wanted to take the car apart, that wasn’t going to happen. Mike and his son received a ticket for $667!

When Mike got home from his vacation, he contacted his lawyer who put him in contact with a lawyer in Buffalo. The second lawyer had Mike call someone in Rochester, New York, who then put him in touch with a lawyer in Quebec. Talk about a roundabout route for justice!

The Canadian lawyer said he could probably get the case dismissed on the premise that the detector was malfunctioning. This is now February 2013 and the case is still pending. Now disbarred, for reasons unknown, the Canadian lawyer can no longer handle the case.

Mike calls the prosecutor himself and gets a deal. He must plead guilty and the fine drops by $177. As his son that was driving, Mike needs to find out what, if any implications there would be on his insurance and license. That’s a delicate phone call to make, without giving away too much information to either the insurance company or agent.

All this ticket talk reminded me of two things that happened to me years ago. I was working in Cedarhurst, NY, on the South Shore of Long Island, and was running late. I was on Peninsula Avenue, which was a known speed trap, but that morning I wasn’t thinking about that. Next thing I know, there’s a cop on a motorcycle on the side of the road waving me to the side of the road.

I was doing 60 miles per hour (mph) in a 30 mph zone and nailed to the wall by radar. I’m always courteous when pulled over. I try to display my various police stickers or cards if I have any. At that time, I had quite a few, along with names to mention if needed. Today, I have none of that.

The cop does the usual routine, sees the cards and stickers and walks away. When he comes back, he says even though I was going 60 mph, he wrote the ticket for 50 mph; this way the fine and points would be lower. I thanked him and went on my way to work. What else was I going to do, yell and scream? That will never get you anywhere when you’re in that situation.

The other one I thought about was a little bit different. It was about five years ago. I’m traveling north on my home at 10 pm after work. It was a tough day, and I was more than tired. 

I was going around 75 mph when I see the lights behind me, so I slow down and pull over. The state trooper comes up to the car, sees the tiredness and depression on my face. He asks how I was, and what was the matter?

I figure I had nothing to lose, so I just said I had a tough day at work. He asks where that was and I told him. It was only a few minutes away and I’m guessing he knew of it. He took my license and registration, goes to his car and is back to me quickly. He hands back my stuff and says that he understands and is only giving me a warning.

If I remember correctly and I may not, we were going on vacation the next day, so not having a speeding ticket hanging over my head was a good thing.

The ticket that irks me the most is the one I got in Deerfield, IL when I was visiting my sister. I was in the cheap piece of crap Kia and didn’t make a full stop. Next thing I know, there’s a cop pulling me over! Who would figure a cop was pulling stop sign duty on a Sunday morning in a residential neighborhood? That ticket cost me $300.

Let’s face facts. After we get a ticket, we always say that we’ll drive better, slow down and make a full stop. That lasts about a week and we go back to our regular, lousy illegal driving habits.

Don’t tell me you haven’t ever gotten a ticket for a moving violation. If you do, I know you’re lying. Don’t lie, tell the truth and make it sound funny. This way the fine won’t hurt so much.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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