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I've been wanting to write about this for about two months now, but haven't. Not sure why. And now it seems I've lost the angry passion behind the whole incident. But write about it I will.

Mid-June, I was driving on the interstate in Indiana and got pulled over by a police car.

Seeing his flashing lights in my rearview mirror, I said out loud to myself, "Why the hell is he pulling me over for?"

Without a clue, I pulled over, turned off the ignition and waited patiently to find out what my offense was.

When he told me he pulled me over for not yielding to an emergency vehicle (ie., didn't move into the left lane when passing his flashing lights police car parked on the right shoulder), I was aghast.

I definitely moved into the left lane.

Besides, I thought later, I don't need no stinking law to prompt me to yield to an emergency vehicle.
I do this automatically. It's courteous. Sensible. Practical.
I told him politely he was mistaken.
He disagreed.
It was his word against mine.
He gave me a moving violation ticket,
and we were both on our way.

Usually without hesitation, I admit my traffic offenses.
Speeding? Yeah, I was.
Car accident? Yeah, it was definitely my fault.

This was a ticket I was going to fight. Damn it.
I signed and sent the ticket noting my request for a court hearing.
It was set for almost two months after the incident.

This was the first time I've ever fought a ticket, and wanted to tackle the event as effectively as possible.
I talked to friends about how to go about arguing my case. If there was anything I could do to prove my innocence.
They came up with great ideas like, "Ask to see the videotape of my offense"; "Bring along a character witness."

Though I have plenty of character witnesses, I didn't ask anyone to come along. Who would drive or fly all the way down to this courthouse in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana? Sheesh, it took me more than two hours to get there.

The bench trial arrived and I was ready.
The judge seemed like a nice and reasonable woman. She smiled.
The police officer and I stood before her, sworn we would tell the truth and the police officer set up the incident as he recalled it.

He said it with such confidence, it made me question my own conviction and memory. 
I told my own story.

The judge pronounced me guilty and charged with the fine plus the court fees.
I couldn't believe it. I asked if we could see a video of what actually happened.
The police officer said his car wasn't set up for such technology.
I asked if there was anything I could say to prove my innocence.

This time the judge was stern and re-pronounced her guilty sentence on me.

There was nothing I could say.
They said the police officer's duty is to uphold the law. So automatically, he is at least 51 percent correct.

One thing the police officer said in retelling his version of this incident that I only realized afterwards was completely false:
He said that I passed both his car and the car in front of his which he had previously stopped.

There was no car in front of his when I passed him.

Oh, well.
It was his word against mine.
He could say anything he wanted.
I would be guilty no matter what.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Ugh. I'd be plenty pissed off too. They probably figure with you being from out of state it would be easy money or something.
Aug. 25th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
Molly, You're not the first person to mention this "out-of-state" thought. There must be something to it.

I feel incredibly naive.
Aug. 25th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
Argh. I think I remember when this happened - like you called me right afterward? - and I didn't think much of it. This stinks.

Props for doing your research and sticking up for yourself, especially staying strong after the officer sounded so assured. I might not have had the courage to do that at all.

I worry that cops get too "hard" and assume fault very very quickly. It also freaks me out when people remember (or claim to remember) events totally differently.

Hopefully I'm not minimizing this too quickly - be pissed off! - but I'm proud of you and will definitely carry the lessons the next time an officer wrongly faults me.
Aug. 27th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Doesn't feel like you're minimizing this one.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
It's too bad you had to put up with that. It doesn't help to be in the middle of nowhere.
Back in June I got a parking ticket in NYC which I didn't think I deserve. I fought the ticket and won. It's easier for justice to prevail when more sets of eyes are watching.
Sep. 8th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
Professor Moriaty,
You are so lucky to have had a witness in your particular case, AND one you could contact.

There was an 18-wheeler truck who most likely saw the whole incident, but to try to find this driver afterwards would have been an incredible feat!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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