If there is one phrase that should be banned from the English language, it’s “I’ll be just a second.” Seriously, what redeeming value does that phrase possess? Have you ever heard it said when it wasn’t a lie? Yet, for some reason, people seem to think by saying that little lie, it makes whatever they are doing okay. Parked in a red zone partially blocking the street so bikes and cars have to drive around you? No problem! “I’ll be just a second!” Got to run into the store for just one thing? Sure, park in the handicap spot. “It’ll be just a second!” Pull someone over for talking on the phone while driving? “Hang on officer, I’ll be done with this call in just a second!” Really?

[media-credit name=”Phil Kiner” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]I know it’s human nature to fudge the truth a little bit, but it seems when it comes to the concept of time, some people have never owned a watch, much less even seen one.  But worse is if someone has to say, “I’ll be just a second,” it means they are imposing on someone and justifying the impact of their actions as being minimal and inconsequential to others.

I’m often asked what causes me to write a ticket versus giving a warning. Here’s a hint: Were you just going to do what I stopped you for for “just for a second?”

I got a ticket for dropping my friend off at the UCSB bus loop. Why is that worth getting a ticket?

I’ve been around UCSB for quite a while, and I had never stopped people for using the bus loop as a drop-off or pick-up point before. If people stopped in a bad spot, I would wave them on and not think much about it. That was until the bus drivers pointed out to me what a problem it really is.

First of all, it is a traffic violation to use a bus stop or loading area for personal vehicles to load, unload or wait for people. Second of all, I bet you told the officer you were just going to be there for a second. Only a second…

Although it only seemed like a second, it takes about 20 seconds on average to load or unload your passenger. When a bus pulls in, it has to maneuver around cars stopped in the bus loading area and often has to wait for you to leave before it can unload passengers. So the 15 people on the bus have to wait 20 seconds, and the 15 people waiting to get on the bus have to wait 20 seconds, therefore you just cost them 600 seconds of time. That’s 30 people who had to wait because of you. Instead, just use the adjacent parking lot that’s about 100 feet away. It’s not as convenient, but it’s a lot cheaper.

Am I required to carry my ID with me wherever I go?

This was asked of me at a class I attended as a guest last week, and although it is a fairly common question, it really was pertinent to a young lady who was recently stopped for a minor traffic violation. Knowing when you have to carry your ID and when it’s not really necessary can be the difference between getting home safely and only seeing your car on visiting day at the impound yard.

The California courts have ruled that a person walking down the street is not required to carry identification. However, the court has also ruled that when lawfully stopped by the police for a violation, there is an expectation that the person is properly identified. Generally we can run a name and birth date through the state DMV computer and get a match that will include a basic description of the person. Most of the time this is enough to prove to the officer you are who you say you are. However, the police are not obligated to try to verify your identity and without identification, an officer may arrest you and book you into jail for the most minor violation instead of issuing the ticket. So although you are not required to carry ID, if you plan on a night out breaking the law, it’s helpful to keep it with you.

There are times you must carry identification. When driving a car, you are required to carry your license on you. The young woman stopped tonight was just out for a quick late night snack run and left her license at home. Not having the license is a violation, but even worse is when the DMV database was checked, it said her license was expired by six months. Just following the law and the computer information we had, she would have received a misdemeanor ticket (i.e.: expensive) and her car would have been towed (i.e: expensive). Luckily, her friend brought her recently-issued temporary license and we were able to see the DMV is apparently still using a Commodore 64, an abacus and a blind monkey to run their license program. We were very grateful to her friend for bringing the license, but it really showed the necessity of carrying it with you while driving.

To everyone heading into finals in the next few weeks, I wish you all the best of luck.  In the mean time, I’ll be online blasting away with a little Call of Duty action. And if my wife asks when I’m coming to bed? It’ll be in just a second…

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.