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January 30, 2007

How to Never Get a Speeding Ticket

By Sarah

More_speeding Let's get something straight. When it comes to avoiding speeding tickets, I am not proud. Nor am I a feminist. There is no maneuver I'm not willing to perform and, aside from those that appear in grainy 8 mm flicks, I've pulled them all.

The result? In all my 28 years of driving, I have received one - count it - one speeding ticket. And that's not because I drive like Grandma Moses in a Halloween parade. In fact, I've been pulled over numerous times, often for ridiculous things such as failing to "adequately stop" at a red light before turning right. (Too bad the cops didn't catch those lefts on red I've made at 3 a.m.) Or, once, driving an unregistered vehicle. (Not my fault - I was busy!)

Still, no tickets.

I mention this because just the other day my noble and vigorously athletic husband was driving at 5:45 a.m. in sub zero weather down a deserted, snowy Vermont road on his way to his gawdawful morning run with a colleague when he was pulled over and ticketed (yes, there's a distinction) by a local cop. To Charlie's credit, the last time he received a speeding ticket said cop was probably in diapers. And I'm afraid to report that there's really nothing Charlie could have done to avoid it - though I have serious reservations about the cop's methods.

Unfortunately, my tried and tested techniques do not apply as easily to men. For example, mySpeedingtrafficticketschool725727_1  favorite move when pulled over is to act terrified. I don't mean nervous. I mean terrified. Hands shaking on the wheel. (Keep them up there. The cops want to see your fingertips.) Stuttering. Near tears. (Don't cry! It pisses them off.) And then, these immortal words:

"Oh my god. My husband's going to kill me."

It's a show stopper. No cop will give you a ticket after you say that. UNLESS you fail to do the following:

* If you have been busted cresting a hill and, naturally, zooming down it at roughly 10-20 miles above the speed limit, by all means slam on the brakes. I mean slam! Also, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE COP in the speed trap. Instead, sit up straight. Look stunned. Deer eyed. Pretend as if this is the most important moment of your life.

Now, I should note that men have a hard time with this rule. To them, slamming on the brakes somehow equals guilt. My father, for one, refused to slow down, arguing that he was doing nothing wrong going 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. Wrong.

Cops don't want to pull you over. (Unless it's the end of the month, but we'll get to that later.) They want to sit in their nice warm cruisers, chatting with dispatch, thinking about lunch. They want to slow you down, that's all. If they see a motorist slam on the brakes, they feel as if they've done their job without so much as opening the door. Besides, they're waiting for the jerk in the Lexus with out of state plates who thinks slowing down is beneath him and that cops are even lower. Cops live to pull over those guys. And I have to admit, I derive some vicarious pleasure from zipping by as they are waylaid on the roadside.

*HAVE YOUR PAPERWORK IN ORDER. This is vitally important and was taught to me by an old boyfriend who happened to be pulled over a lot. License should be in your wallet. Wallet should be held in the left hand that is also on the steering wheel. Remove it from its nice and neat plastic holder so the cop can see.

Registration and insurance should be in your registration envelope, an envelope that is not dirty or littered with marijuana leaves. When to retrieve this is up to you. Some troopers get nervous if they see you lean over and reach for something before they even walk up to the car. Better to wait until they ask. Then lean over, pop open your (organized) glove compartment and remove the tidy envelope. This also allows them to witness your dexterity and decide you are not drunk. Also, according to the tidy glove compartment, that you are not carrying. (Guns are best stored under the  passenger's seat, anyway.)

*Keep your vehicle up to date. This means lights working, inspection done, registration hunky dory. The one time I was pulled over in Cleveland for an unregistered vehicle, I was operating under the misinformation that I had X number of months after moving to a new state before I had to register. I have no idea where I got this notion. I think it was a holdover from living in Jersey. Anyway, I was completely bold with the cop. Did it matter that I was 24 and wearing a low-cut sweater? Looking back, my answer to that would be a resounding maybe. So, I suppose the codicil to this rule is, if your vehicle doesn't appear up to date, make sure you are.

*Beware the end of the month. It's quota time, especially June and July when many municipalities are closing out their fiscal years. Don't be an idiot. Trooper Joe's been handing out warnings for six months and suddenly he's got to produce. Therefore, slow down June 30th. (Precariously close to July 4th, anyway). Let the jerk on your tail who's about to pass you be the fool.

Of course, you could slow down all month long, not just at the end. When Charlie and I moved to the college town where he went to law school, I was so upset by the kids speeding up and down the road, jeopardizing the life of our precious eighteen-month-old daughter, that I actually called the sheriff's department and asked them to set up a speed trap.

Free_speeding_tickets_1 The first person they caught was - me.

My one and only ticket.

Okay - let's hear your tips. Remember: the insurance premium you save, could be your own.

Sarah

PS - A HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS to our very own Michele Martinez and her Romantic Times Award nomination for THE FINISHING SCHOOL. Yeah, Michele!

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Comments

Never got a speeding ticket, I think because I almost never go more than 10 over. There was that time in 1999 I wanted to see how fast that 300Z was going on I-65 between Mobile and Montgomery when it passed me like I was standing still even though I was going 80, and when I hit 101 and it was still pulling away, I decided enough was enough. For some reason, my wife does not like that story--something about the child in the car, not the Yankee Jew in Alabama. She was not there.

I have gotten two traffic light tickets, one deserved (1986, on the way to a secret tryst that was not going to be delayed by no stinkin' rural traffic light where there was no traffic--oops) and the other not (1981, in Center City Philadelphia after a 7-hour drive). I took my medicine and paid them.

Of course, you've always been in pedestrian cars--Jetta or whatever, Pilot, Element. Wait until you blast over the crest of the hill in that hot BMW. They might not be so solicitous.

Given that the Superbowl is down here, it is best to go UNDER the speed limit by 5 mph. The cops are EVERYWHERE! EVERY CORNER!!! CAMERAS AT EVERY STOPLIGHT!!!
It is not pretty,
Big Brother has arrived in South Florida.

Good advice, Sarah, thanks! I'm always paranoid about the state of my glove compartment, so I'm going to clean that out today. No marijuana leaves, just CDs and sunglasses and maybe even some embarrassing feminine items that would spill out and annoy a busy officer of the law.

Never received a speeding ticket (never been caught), but I was pulled over not so long ago for an expired tag. As Car Maintenance falls under DH's Umbrella of Marital Duties, I was pissed. Kept my hands in sight as I told the cop, "I'm gonna kill my husband." He smiled, so I continued with, "And that's probably not a good thing to say to a cop," which made him laugh and say, "It's not the ones who say it we usually worry about." No ticket, just a warning to get the tag up to date and "behave myself." Big smile with that last comment, which I returned. So, you see, flirting works, too. Tough break, Charlie.

Hey, Josh, "Yankee Jew in Alabama"--did Mark Twain write that?

Welcome back, Sarah! We missed you.

My husband drives like a maniac. Seriously, my eyes are closed at least 25% of the time. But he's read everything on the internet about how not to get speeding tickets and those tips work.

What men need to do is not really that different from women, just minus the sexual component. Be really really respectful and apologetic. Admit you screwed up. Promise to be more careful in the future. Oh, and keep that PBA card visible right next to your license. (Helps if you have friends in law enforcement).

Ha, ha, Ramona. To be able to chat up a cop is a true skill. Kudos! (Though, should your husband be, God forbid!, extinguished by mortal hands, you might want to rethink that policy.)

And I'm pretty sure Yanke Jew in Alabama was a Kinky Friedman song.

My father-in-law used to have his retired Ohio judge's card facing his license in his wallet, so that when he got stopped, it would just sort of flop out. It didn't work when he got stopped in Alabama one day (why does Alabama keep coming up?), and the reaming he got from my mother-in-law, also a retired judge, made him move it.

On the other hand, my wife's uncle, who is a priest in Cleveland, has sort of carte blanche. I would consider putting on a Roman collar if I were going to speed all the time, because in a big Eastern city, it would work every time.

I avoided my one and only potential speeding ticket with the scared-young-thing bit (it probably helped that I was, you know, scared and young). I've been busted legitimately for failing to pull over for an ambulance (lights but no siren, and the cop was right behind it) and for going through a left turn on a yellow arrow (at a time when the cops had set up a trap for just such a thing at that intersection -- I really wish they were around when everyone goes through on red, though). And I got yelled at once -- literally -- by a cop the day after my state inspection expired. He was passing by me in a parking lot and stuck his head out the window to holler at me in a very mean tone of voice. I did not like him.

I guess I've never really worried too hard about speeding tickets, when it comes right down to it. Now, if someone had good advice for parking tickets (the bane of my graduate school days) . . .

Sarah, this blog may well be the most important one I get this month. Excuse me while I stop a second and slam on the brakes.
(hey, it's L.A. They EXPECT you to answer e-mail while driving.)

In my state, you get "points on your license" for every traffic violation, and after a certain number of points you go to traffic school and/or lose your license. Fingers crossed---I haven't lost my license yet. I need to work on my acting skills, I guess!

My last encounter several years ago (previous moving violations I got warnings al la Sarah's methods) was the prize. I got pulled over after driving out of a strip mall parking lot and not stopping for the "painted" STOP on the road. I started to get out of the car b/c I didn't know the rule and he shouted get back and pulled his gun. While he called for back up, I sat still and got out the papers.
They surrounded the car and gave me a ticket which took forever. Probably didn't help when I grabbed it and said "So now you're profiling middle-aged, overweight ladies in eight year old Toyotas!" They followed me to the book store where I vented at the Women Lawyers book group meeting----I was bringing the dessert. Encouraged by the group, I tried to stop at the magistrate's office to explain there were no standing stop signs. Twice. Paid it when I found out the office was closed since he had been busted for DUI.
Watch out in Verona; you might get shot.
Mary Alice
And folks wonder where I get the fighting mode for cancer!

I have never had a speeding ticket, but my dear husband after having a clean record for 4 years has managed to get 4 speeding tickets in 3 months. Two of them were last week. He's lucky I've absorbed this with good humor.

The little reject from the Andy Griffin Show who pulled me over reminded me that there are jerks everywhere. And some of them have a license to carry guns and act on their inadequate egos under the color of law.

I think I am going to contest the ticket. I questioned the little twerp and he made conflicting statements concerning the degree to which he was tailgating me (his tailgating resulted in my speeding). I think a court should know -- even when the issue is pretty unimportant ($130 speeding ticket + 3 points) -- when a cop is willing to give false statements to the public he/she purports to serve. After all, that guy is licensed to carry and use a weapon of deadly force. I reckon he should be held to an ethical standard that demands truth from cops.

GRRRRRRRRR!!!!! (Steaming Mad in Cold Vermont)

You go, Charlie!

Forgot to mention: Congratulations, Michele! I'm pulling for you.

Also, Charlie honey, when someone tailgates you, you're not supposed to speed up. That's what they want. You're supposed to slow down. A lot. But sporadically.

Good luck with contesting the ticket. May I suggest you refrain from calling anyone with a license to carry, a reject, a jerk or a twerp, and I'd try not to mention inadequate egos, either. Just some ideas, 'cause I'm pulling for you, too. (smile)

This should be entertaining. Ten bucks says the cop won't show in court.

Ramona you are wondrous wise (I think that is a line out of the Odyssey -- "and like to wondrous wise was she/oh Helen of the fair arms" or something like that)

My failure to maintain dispassion proves the true of the adage, "a lawyer who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client." Maybe I should just take my lumps.

On more important matters, Congratulations Michele!

Quoting the Odyssy will not help in court, Charlie, I'm pretty sure.

The brass band is tuning up here for Michele! And congrats to the other nominees in many categories we pay attention to around the TLC offices. I started to make a list of all the nominees who have commented here from time to time, but the list got way too long. Miss Charlaine, Lois Greiman, PJ Tracy, Jan Burke, Cornelia Read, Tess Gerritson--egad, I'm going to skip some important ones. When Margie gets back from wherever she went with Steve, maybe she'll make us a pretty bulletin board. She loves those projects that take a lot of time and require those scissors that cut into cute shapes. Many congrats, everyone!

Charlie, pay it, and watch what happens to your insurance. Then, when your daughter turns 16 in a couple of months and becomes the third licensed driver in a house that now has three cars--someone has to be the primary driver of each car--see what happens.

Contest it. There's nothing to lose. Maybe you could get a collegue to do it gratis, just for fun.

I think you're right, Josh. This is WAR.

First, I'm filing for a change of venue to bring it up to the county court in my back yard. Then I am going to seek discovery and have the county sheriff summons the chief of police, the issuing officer and the dispatcher for deposition at our offices. Then I'll file a dispositive motion (either summary judgment or motion to dismiss) and motions in limine to keep out the ticket and any testimony of the issuing officer. If denied on any motions, I will immediately file an interlocutory appeal.

And who says the law's no fun?

Oh yeah, and I'll ask for a jury trial!

Um, Sarah? When's the last time Charlie's had a vacation?

Another tip is to sing whenever possible if speeding. This got me out of a nasty ticket, as the officer thought it was funny he caught me doing my own American Idol thing... He just made a five-five hand signal and I promptly slammed the brakes, a la Sarah. My sheepish expression and patented finger-waggle couldn't have hurt, either.
I agree though, they really don't want to pull you over.

I will be 39 in March. My only speeding ticket happened when I was 17. My cousin and I were running late for work. I was doing 17 miles over the speed limit. We were both young, and if I do say so myself were looking pretty good. The police officer, a male, who pulled us over called for backup, even though I pulled over right away, kept my hands on the steering wheel, and complied completely. I was also crying because I figured my mother was going to kill me when I got home. The 2 other police cars that responded had all male officers. So here we are with 3 police cars and all these male officers standing talking to us. The one who wrote me the ticket did apologize for having to do so, but I was mortified at all these cop cars and flashing lights. My mom was furious. She said the only reason they did all that is because it was 2 young girls.

Holly - I agree with your mother.

Suzanne - I was singing when I was ticketed!

Ramona - Charlie? Vacation? Have you ever read my blog about taking him to the Turks and Caicos? The man does not do vacations. Unless your idea of relaxing is starting a Third World revolution.

In the Turks & Caicos dictionary under "outside agitator" is a picture of Charlie, according to Sarah.

I've had more tickets than I can remember. I guess I should take the COPS SUCK bumpersticker off my car.

Sarah- it wasn't I Shot the Sheriff though, right?

I've been stopped for speeding once and for running a red light once (I SWEAR, it was yellow). Didn't get a ticket either time.

Speeding Stop(age 18) - in MO, going to see BF..doing 95 in 55. There was a car load of boys chasing us. I was so scared (parents didn't know I'd taken the car to MO). I have a southern accent and getting stopped brought it to full force - Officer Fox became a six syllable statement. I got a warning. The guys? They were getting a ticket I as pulled away!

Running the Red Light - I was racing home to see the local university basketball game on tv. Nice cop understood and let me go.

When the day comes I get a speeding ticket, I won't even argue. I'll have earned it fair and square!

FIrst, congratulations Michele!!!!

Second, Charlie, I feel your pain. The one and only time I've ever been pulled over was when I lived in Vermont. I was four miles in on the five mile dirt road that led to our house. Came to the stop sign--dead end to the left and straight, no choice but to turn right. I turned right after stopping and got pulled over. Because I hadn't stopped for long enough.

I need hardly say that this was the end of the month.

I contested the ticket and in court the trooper said he couldn't locate the record, so it was thrown out. He smiled at me as I left, and I knew darn well that he knew exactly where the record was...

If I was a cop and I read all these posts, I'd want to write everyone a ticket.

This is about red light camera tickets.

If you're in CA or AZ and the court's address is not on the "ticket" that came to you in the mail (it MAY mention the court's name but without giving the court's address), and if it says something like "This is not a summons" or "Do not contact the court about this notice," it is not a real ticket, and you can ignore it.

These mailers are a clever effort by the police to bluff you into telling them who was driving the car. The police use them when they are unsure if the registered owner is the person in the picture. Examples would be if there is a gender mismatch, a big difference in age, a rental or company car, or just a very blurry photo.

They're called Snitch Tickets. (For more info about them, Google the term.)

" Let's get something straight. When it comes to avoiding speeding tickets, I am not proud. Nor am I a feminist. There is no maneuver I'm not willing to perform and, aside from those that appear in grainy 8 mm flicks, I've pulled them all."

Good rule of thumb is to always drive with caution!

That's funny, your own speed trap! As far as Turks and Caicos go, which I'm not entirely sure I understand being a topic here, I own a Turks Caicos vacation rental and I actually got pulled over there, which is really weird since that's the predominant theme. :-) Try getting out of that one!

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