Nothing ruins your day more than cruising down the road and suddenly having red and blue lights pop on behind you. That sinking feeling gets even worse when you slow down and try to wave him around you so he can get that other guy going faster ahead of you. But no, the cop doesn’t want that flaming-red Ferrari; it’s you in your yellow ’86 Honda in his sights. Is my registration expired? No. Is my license plate attached to my bumper? Yes. Is my bumper attached to my car? I think so. Is my zipper up? Check. Was I speeding? Oh, crap…
Q: Why does my friend always get a warning and I get a ticket when we both did the same thing?
A: We’ve all had that friend who can speed at a 150 miles per hour through a school zone blasting “I Shot the Sheriff” on his stereo, not wearing a seatbelt and wearing a Speedo that’d make Borat blush. He gets pulled over and gets a warning. Yet it seems like as soon as you hit 66 on a freeway going down a 90-degree hill with a tornado on your butt and there’s a cop waiting at the bottom of the hill with a ticket already written for you. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? You know what? It’s not.
The sorry truth is that every time we write a ticket or give a warning, we are basing it on what we see and hear at that moment and what we believe will help reduce the chance of future violations. When the officer talks to you, do you call him a liar and threaten to get him fired and cancel his subscription to the Donut of the Month Club? Or do you politely explain that you were on your way to the Hug a Puppy Club meeting at the local homeless shelter and did not realize you were speeding? Maybe saying you felt the officer should “go back his other hobby of clubbing baby harp seals” was not the best choice of words that would convince him that a warning would be enough to reduce the chance you would continue to speed. So, as my advice to you, if you get pulled over for any violation, just be polite and discuss it in a nice way with the officer. There’s no guaranteed way to not get the ticket, but telling the officer where he can put his ticket book… well, that will probably ensure you a place at traffic school.
Q: I got a speeding ticket and I think the cop put a speed down way higher than I was going. If I contest the ticket, will I still be eligible for traffic school?
A: You are eligible for traffic school once every 18 months if you were cited for less than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit. However, keep in mind that when you go to court, the judge can reserve the right to deny you the chance to go to traffic school at his discretion. What that means is that when you get the ticket, it only says “speeding” and how fast you were going. When you go to court, the officer may testify about how while you were speeding, you were also launching baby bunnies from a potato gun at nuns in the crosswalk. Which, regardless of the reason the cop felt that only deserved a warning, a judge may feel that was a horrendous waste of lunch meat and therefore decide you are ineligible for traffic school. However, if you were rushing to deliver those cute fuzzy bunnies to the local orphanage to bring just a glimmer of sunlight into those poor children’s gloomy lives when you got stopped for speeding, you’ll probably have no problem with the traffic school. Just hope the judge doesn’t notice it was rabbit-stew day at the cafeteria.
The weather’s warming up and Isla Vista is getting back to full swing again. So, if you are out there, have a great time but be safe. If you drink, stay with sober friends, and if you’re sober, stay with your drunk friends. There have been a few people getting hurt over the last few weekends, so be careful and watch out for each other. And if you’re out there and see me and have a question, don’t hesitate to stop by and Question Authority!
Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the po-po? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! E-mail me anytime at QA@police.ucsb.edu or call UCSB PD at 893-3446.