Sunday, March 25, 2007

CHiPs: Ponch and John Would Be Very Upset At Today’s California Highway Patrols' Lack Of Integrity

Go ahead; ask me how my weekend was? It was going pretty well -- the weather was in the 70’s, my daughter just got a clean bill of health from the doctor on Friday (pneumonia is gone!) and I paid a visit to the accountant to do the taxes (we’re getting a refund… not a lot by any means, but hey! It sure beats OWING) Yup, things were good until I got a speeding ticket on the freeway.

I know this happens to good people (like myself) all the time - it’s a fact of life. But this is different, I’m actually angry! The California Highway Patrol Officer (Garner, I.D. No. 18233) COMPLETELY LIED on how fast I was going? Yeah, yeah, everybody says that – but in truth, this policewoman did!

O.K. I admit it, as I always have - since the age of 16 (what seems like a very, very long time ago), I’ve gotten 3 rightfully deserved tickets. The last one was about 4 years ago driving through the open Arizona desert around midnight going 85. When the good sergeant walked up, I pretty much told him “yup, I’m guilty.” The one before that, maybe 7 years ago, speeding on 'the 101' going 69mph (BTW- nobody goes 69 on ‘the 101’ unless you want to die!) I was cool with it. I was the idiot who didn’t slam the brakes like everybody else when the “B&W” appeared and moved-up slowly to the front of the herd. But again, I totally admitted it - that good officer wrote the ticket as 69mph in a 65mph zone and we both made a joke about the weather (it was a feel-good moment.)

Fast-forward to today, I’m going 72-73mph, on ‘the 210’ in Pasadena. I know this because I was using cruise control off and on. I get pulled over, (side note- a ‘sinister sedan’ was in the next lane over, going way faster – who gets pulled over? Scary car or the little bright red one with the white roof and prominent car seat in the back? But whatever, I got caught.) What was I saying? Oh, so the policewoman immediately asks for my info, walks away for 5 minutes, and comes back with a ticket that says 80mph!! Huh?!?
I asked if she paced me or used radar (very nicely) – she said she was following right behind me for awhile (which she wasn’t, I saw her jump over a few lanes.) but I signed the citation anyway. Then she told me very sternly to go to traffic school, which I would likely do anyways. But you know, I wasn’t going 80. The wife even knew that looking at the giant speedometer in the middle of the MINI dashboard. I want the truth to be written down, not some embellishment of the truth, then I’ll do traffic school. Why? Because I want police to be honest, is that too much to ask for?
I am seriously considering showing up on the court date to contest the speed, but after some reading it looks like it’s definitely a case of “he said, she said”, and 99% of the time you loose no matter what (unless of course, aliens plan to invade earth that day.)
I know this might be insignificant to some, but I really want the police to be truthful, especially with everyday unimportant things like giving speeding tickets because if they aren’t honest with the small things, how much of the big important stuff is embellished or (gasp) fabricated?! It’s things like this that makes regular people, like me, highly cynical of law enforcement.
I keep wondering why in the world would this Highway Patrol woman embellish the speed. Does this make her look cooler back at the base? Do they make more money off you for every mph over the speed limit? Or do they really want to make me look like a true ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’ criminal speeder?

Has this EVER happened to anybody? Seriously I’m looking for advice. FIGHT ‘the man’ (or ‘the woman’) – I really want the POLICE to be trustworthy, people my daughter (and I) can have assurance in.
Or do I just shut up, pay the undisclosed fine (there goes that ‘tax-return’…), do some traffic school online or at the local comedy club, and hope somebody else deals with it one day?

On a light-hearted note- when the patrolwoman gave me my ticket, my daughter yelled out “THANK YOU!” The patrolwoman didn’t even react.


h&b said...

Patrolwoman was a bitch.

I'm more pissed she didn't respond to your kid ( it's something MY polite child would do )


But then, I suppose if I did that, my kid might stop with the polite, and start on crack.

So there you go.

Jenster said...

She sounds like a sad, sad woman. I was miffed with your story but horrified by the fact your sweet daughter's good manners didn't fase her! She probably needs a mommy (ala "Hook").

I probably wouldn't contest the ticket - it'd be a waste of time. But you could write a letter to the city, police department, her supervisor, the editor. The hike makes no sense to me, either, and may not make any difference at all. But I agree it's wrong.

On a side note - back in '80 while riding in a bus full of cheerleaders on our way to camp at Pepperdine we passed them filming CHiPs on PCH. There they were, Ponch and John riding motorcycles behind a van pulling a trailer with a big, huge camera. All the girls rushed to that side of the bus and I thought we were going over for a minute.

Okay. So now that I read that it's not so exciting.

Undercover Angel said...

I don't know if it's the same there as it is here, but here Police Officers have a quota of tickets they have to give out every month - if they're nearing the end of the month and haven't reached their quota they'll nail anyone for anything even if they have trump things up to do it.

Now, we all know about the quota, the judges all know about the quota, and I'm fairly certain the cops around here know that we know. Around here, we'd fight something like that and win, because the judge doesn't care if they don't make their quota...

Anonymous said...

You can't really win this one. I got stopped going 85 in a 65 last year, and I decided to go to court. Here in CT, they'll most likely reduce your ticket if you show up, and that is what happened. No traffic school, no comedy club.

Love that your daughter used her manners!!

Lisa said...

It's been awhile since I lived in CA, but the fines for going 15 mph over the speeed limit used to be way higher than 10 mph over. Again, not sure if they still have a staggered price scale or not.

Easy for me to say (not having been there) but I would have refused to sign the citation. They can still give it to you, but if you refuse to sign they have to note it, and why. Makes it easier to contest in court.

Sarah O. said...

Unbelievably, I've never gotten a speeding ticket. But I did get one for Driving Too Fast for Conditions when I hit a patch of Chicago ice and rammed my minivan into a way smaller vehicle. No one was hurt.

Whatever, I showed up at traffic court; the cop didn't.

Verdict: Not guilty by default, no fine, no record.

And to think I bought a conservative navy suit just to look respectable to the judge.

Whit said...

I was going to go off on some Crash tangent, but I'll spare you.

If you have the time, contest it, otherwise I would, at the very least, follow the advice someone else left and write a letter.

I'm very big on principle, and I don't appreciate the abuse of power and lack of manners shown by the officer.

Ponch is probably rolling over in his WA state beachfront property townhome.

creative-type dad said...

h&b -- Yeah, I really don't understand people not reacting to a small child. I really think those people going around kicking squirrels and kittens for fun when nobody's looking...

Jenster -- what are you talking about? That's a GREAT 'CHiPs' story

MamaLee -- I wonder, did you still get "a point" against you on your insurance?

Lisa -- I don't think you can do that here...

Sarah O. -- I wonder how often that happens, them not showing up? It's kind of like gambling.

InterstellarLass said...

You got a ticket for 69 in a 65? That wouldn't happen in Texas. In fact, it would be a complete waste of time. People here drive fast. As long as you're with the flow of traffic and not zipping in and out, you're likely to be ignored.

I would have made a notation on the citation as to what you considered your speed to have been. Isn't there a space for any kind of dispute?

radioactive girl said...

My husband got a ticket just recently and did the online traffic school thing.

In your situation, I would be mad, but would probably just do the traffic school anyway. I am angry that she didn't at least say "you're welcome" to your daughter though!

metro mama said...

What a bitch!

Kate said...

Ah, I got my first speeding ticket in probably 15 years last November. It totally sucks! I can empathize with you. And that policewoman was a total bitch to you. As far as I'm concerned people become police officers because they need a way to exercise their inner-bully.

But I wouldn't fight city hall. Might not be worth your time.

~*Kelli*~ said...

I feel the same way. I always *KNOW* I'm not going as fast as they say. Sure, I'm speeding, but not THAT much.

My true story. 3 years ago, I was leaving work for lunch. I drove about 10 miles, from work to Sonic. I got to Sonic, pushed the button, and started to order. I looked behind me, and there was a cop, lights flashing, walking up to my car. I thought "What the HELL?" Anyway, so he says "MA'AM! Did you not SEE me following you all the way back there?" I really didn't. I guess I don't look in my rear view mirror. God, everyone at Sonic was looking at me, and the lady in the Sonic speaker was yelling "Ma'am...did you want CHEESE on that?" I finally had to tell her to "call me back!"

God that was awful. Getting a ticket at SONIC

Mel said...

Proof that the cop has no soul:
"when the patrolwoman gave me my ticket, my daughter yelled out “THANK YOU!” The patrolwoman didn’t even react."

L.A. Daddy said...

First, how in the hell did you manage to use your cruise control on a Los Angeles freeway when it was 3am and during a major rain storm?! I've tried. Set it, hit the brake. Set it, hit the brake. Set it, hit... well, you know...

Second, it could be that the "bump" to 80mph could mean a larger fine or more points on your license or something.

And, finally, I would fight it. Because it's LA, there's a darn good chance the officer won't show up on the court date. If that happens, you win automatically. But LA cops don't use radar on the freeways so at least it will be a "he said, she said" and you might get some leniency (especially if it's a higher fine for going that much faster.)

Oh, and do it online. It's easy. I've done it four or five times. And you can do it at your leisure.

Redneck Mommy said...

Sounds like someone pissed in that bee-yotches corn flakes that morning...

It happened to me once too. I tried fighting it. I ended up looking like an ass and the judge lectured me. But damnit, I'm with you. I'll admit to wrong doing (and I was speeding) but not at the limit the asshat said I was.


dennis said...

While speeding is not something I support, if you were maintaining the flow of traffic and would have been a hazard if you drove the regular speed limit, it might be worthwhile to fight the ticket.

otherwise hand the judge the vaseline and remember to smile when you say 'thank you'

Maria said...

Here in Nebraska, the cops have quotas for tickets too. I know this because I have several family members who are cops and they tell me that it pisses them off to have to write them too.

I think the policewoman who has delusions of grandeur and thinks she is Angie Dickinson or something, needs to meet you in traffic court.

I'd tell the whole story and include the part where she ignored your kid just to illustrate that maybe she was having a bad ass day and took it out on you. I mean, the judge might have kids or grandkids and the sentimental plea might ring solid in him.

Or not. Hard to tell. If he is like the judge for Anna, he might start crying like a little girl and that might be a good thing....

Oh, The Joys said...

In court, you can request that the officer show proof that the radar is up to date, serviced, etc. (There is a document she should have but likely won't) and ask for documentation/proof of her certification to use the equipment. If she is not able to produce either, the judge will likely dismiss the case. (Check with someone about yoru state, but I actually got off a speeding ticket for being stupidly brave enough to do this.)

Diana said...

Yep, quota. Here, we are extra careful the last ten days of the month just because they nail you for not whistling while you're at a stop sign...
You might have a good case if you go to court. Let the judge know how fast you were actually going, maybe they'll be nice since you're being honest. Hopefully it'll be dismissed or at least reduced so you can buy your baby a nice princess with your tax return.

Occidental Girl said...

That sucks! Go for the truth. Since law enforcement is an area where many, many people lie (including authorities), the more honesty the better.

There's protesting that "I didn't do it" which, really? How interesting and new a concept.

And then there's "yeah, I was speeding, but that's not the right speed". That should get heard.

The police force is made up of good people and bad people, just like everywhere else. Some people have power trips, others are nice. Sorry you encountered a power-tripper.

Pageant Mom said...

that happened to me... i went to court and the judge looked at me and asked me what I did - so I told him that the policeman said I was speeding... he then asked me why I was there - I simply stated to reduce my points and fine. He asked me if I WAS speeding and i looked at him very matter of factly and stated that THAT was what the policeman said and I also presented my case that I had a VERY clean record prior to this event... He got very exasperated and dropped the points and only charged me $75 (I just got lucky I guess)

Pageant Mom said...

... oh and did you know that a hallmark of serial killers is a desire to go into law enforcement??

creative-type dad said...

Pageant Mom -- That's odd- I thought serial killers wanted to be in a band?

Occidental Girl -- that is true. There are good and bad ones everywhere. I just hope there are many more good ones in this area.

Diana -- whistling? I can go for that.

Clever Parents said...

The jacked up ticket is bad enough, being rude to your daughter, that's awful.

Same thing happened to me in college-a 7 series BMW passes me going 100+ in a 55 and a cop pulls me over going like 65-70 because I "was easier to catch". Lists the ticket as 85. I live 6 hours away and he knows I won't contest it.

wayabetty said...

DUDE~You know you were pretty much screwed when the cops turned out to be a woman. They are vicious, and this is coming from a woman.

I would definitely fight the man/woman in court! I don't know about California's law, but if she doesn't show up in court, your ticket is null and void. And I bet you she has better fish to fry then show up in court. I say bring your daughter along and tell the judge that "how can I be going 80 when I have this precious bundle of joy in the back seat? Her precious life is in my hand and I'd never do anything to put her in harm's way!" And that's the truth dude!

Anonymous said...

It's a pet peeve when people behave as such. I have had a couple of nurses lately be very Spok-like in terms of showing no emotion. I mean, haven't they seen Patch Adams? Okay, but this is about cops, I know, but she could've been cooler at least. I wonder if your ticket would cost more to you since you were going "80".

Ryan (who used to have a blog and comment here regularly)

Rob said...

Fight it. As LA Daddy said, the cop might not show up.

Also, always ask if they gunned you or followed you (which you did). If they gun you, you can ask to see the gun readout as well as the calibration certificate.

But beware, it might piss off the cop. I questioned a cop (I was speeding, but that's not the point) and he held me up on the side of the road for nearly 45 minutes (under the pretense that there was something up with my license). Of course, his calibration cert was out of date (by six months!) and he let me off with a warning.

He wasn't happy about it.

creative-type dad said...

Rob - she claimed to be pacing me when I had asked. I am going to show up on the court date and hope she does a no-show.
If she does, I am claiming 72-73 on cruise control. From what I've learned, the "bail" is based on the speed.

Ryan - where've you been?!

AJ said...

I was told by a cop-friend that a radar citation is easier to contest because additional training is required to properly use a radar gun.

I was ticketed once in a residential area when a cop eyeballed me and then acted on a gut instinct, and clearly lied, saying I was paced. In "he said, she said" you usually lose.

I took online traffic school, much cheaper and faster than the in-person variety.