Traffic Violations and Being Pulled Over.

Getaway Van

I've been pulled over five times during my driving career in the last two years. The first experience caused me such fright that by the third time I was pulled over, I wrote down conversations and observations with the officer soon after returning home. I've had those experiences where you had done nothing wrong, but got to get a laugh out if it. The first time I was once pulled over was on I believe December 20, 2003, exactly six months and three days from the time I got my license, of which 6/3 is my birthday... I was just leaving a debate fundraiser, driving one of those old blue 1992 Dodge vans, down highway-89, and I'm going maybe three mph over the speed limit with another debater who is older than me in the passenger seat.

He says, "Oh great, what have you done now?" He had meant it too, always looking down upon me as if I was even unfit for his pathetic training. If he ever judged my performance, no matter how good it was, no matter if I had even been against another debate and creamed them, he still put me at the lowest possible rank - gave the other debater the win (Even if all other judges saw me as the winner) - and further found fault in everything I did.

When the officer pulled me over he spent a solid five minutes checking background on my license plate and car bio. He walked up to my window with his flashlight already on, and his shooter finger on the holster of his unbuttoned gun. He asks, "So what are you up to?" I tell him I had just left a fundraiser for my debate program, further saying I had been there the last six hours. He nodded, it was 11 pm and he used his flashlight to look all around my vehicle. He saw tons of boxes spewed about the back of my car in quite a disaster of a car mess. He didn't ask what they were, but they were boxes full of chess related gear that I used for Schoolhouse Chess. Now if that wasn't suspicious, my right headlight was broken, and I was nervous. So he told me why he pulled me over, "Well your van matches the getaway vehicle used in a burglary down the street, but you aren't the guys we're looking for, don't match the description I'd say, so have a goodnight," and he left. So with this background I tell the other getting pulled over stories.

Lack of the License Plate

The second time I was pulled over another of those coincidental run-ins with the law. I hadn't pulled over for exactly six months and three days from the last time. There's that lucky number again... Any way, I was now driving a blue eclipse 1993 stick shift (Only way to drive a sportscar in my opinion). I hadn't had a front license plate on my vehicle (ever), and as I've noticed about 20-30% of any car I've seen doens't either. There is this law that you are supposed to have both license plates on at all times, no matter the car (even if mine didn't have a place for it). I'm driving down one of my local roads down hill on a bend. There are two cars in front of me going 37-38ish mph (Speed Limit 30). They see the cop and slam on their breaks to avoid becoming the officer's next victim. Of course I was paying attention to my driving direction's making sure I got to the dentist from a certain route, so I had to short stop too, but not exactly the same way they did. I veered to the right so that just in case I wouldn't even be close to hitting the car in front of me (which by no means broke any law mind you). The officer saw a teenager driving a sportscar, and wanted to give me his sarcastic remarks of, "So boy, were you trying to pass on the right?" Proposterous as that was, he said it, but instead gave me the excuse of, "I'm writing you a fix-it ticket for not having a front license plate on." Later when my father had to go "check it off with the guy" the officer tells him, "He was on the cell phone, among other things, but I gave him a break," which wasn't even close to being true. So I was late to the dentist, but I didn't mind that much, as I had some cavities they were taking care of.

Luminous Light and Scraped Paint

The third time I got pulled over is the story I initially wanted to share - So I'll save it for last. I'll quickly tell you the fourth and fifth incidents. The fourth time I accidently didn't turn on my lights during the night, pulled out of an ice-cream parlor, and within two miles of driving was pulled over. He quickly got out of his vehicle, asked me why my lights were out, (which were on by the time his lights were actually flashing, odd how I turned them on right before the officer put his lights on). I tell him, and of course it looks kind of bad because I had just turned them on as if in response to the officer. He let me go any way, didn't even say goodbye, just kind of went back to his car and I left. The fifth time on the way home from Logan driving south bound on I-15 there were rubber neckers on my side of the freeway looking at the enormous accident across the barrier. Some guy short stops four cars up, and I didn't short stop fast enough and slightly bumped the guy in front of me. He gave me the finger, but pulled over and I did too with apologies given to him quickly. Looked like only paint scraped off, he just wanted my phone number and to get back on the road. I complied and he was just about to leave when an officer was reporting for the accident across the freeway though he stopped by us. The other guy left within 1 minute of speaking with the officer (who then took my driver's license) and I had to wait for fifteen minutes while he writes a simple note that read: If you have a problem call this number 555-5555. You get the idea, no reportable damage, just paint scraped off. The guy never called me (except to check to see if it was the real phone number 30 minutes after leaving). No reportable damage.

Now for the exciting one.

Utah Traffic Law:

Section: 41-6-66. Turning -- Manner -- Traffic-control devices.
(4) (a) The Department of Transportation and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be erected that direct a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by turning vehicles.
(b) The operator of a vehicle may not turn a vehicle other than as directed by official traffic-control devices erected under Subsection (4)(a).

12:30 AM 7/14/04
30 minutes have passed since the police officer sent me on my way.
I was pulled over at 11:50 PM on 7/13/04 Violation given by S. H. issued at 11:55 PM on 7/13/04
At 11:47 PM I was at the intersection just off the freeway on I-15 heading east. Shortly after I made a right turn onto a street.

Our conversation:

“Good evening officer.”

“May I please see your license and registration (insurance card).”

I gave the officer the requested items, he spoke to me briefly. “You made an illegal turn onto this street. I didn’t see any vehicles exiting the freeway where you crossed over (that white line *That I swear wasn't there*) but they have the right of way. I know it’s dark, but there is a sign (*That I missed badly*) there that says it is illegal to turn onto this road.”

It was dark and I did not see the sign as I made the turn, I plan to go back and look at the sign during the day and night to photograph the intersection leading up to the turn and the sign, as it was confusing. I asked him how I would travel onto the current road correctly and he told me to go east one more intersection, turn right, and turn right again onto the road. I acknowledged him and he told me he was going to proceed back to his vehicle to write a citation.

He returned with the written material, asked me to sign after telling me I violated law “Improper/unsafe/prohibited Turn” and I later read that law under 41-6-66 and plan to bring a copy of it to court on the following Tuesday between Noon and Five PM.

Before I signed I told him I understood the mistake to the best of my recollection and would not make the same mistake again.

He then went back to his vehicle, I turned off my hazzard lights, signaled left, and proceeded home.

Going to the judge within that two week period wasn't very fun. First off the judge was a judge, supposing to make laws firm and the example. I learned a lesson that day, going to court isn't going to help you if you're guilty, instead speak to the prosecuting lawyer first. Traffic laws have punishments. Of which none are given on basis of "Intention." Instead, for instance, if you ran a stop sign because ice prevented you from stopping, you still violated the law and are guilty. I missed an odd sign at midnight, and was charged a 150$ fine which ilueded abeyance but still, that's pretty hefty. So I somehow ran into the prosecuting attorney for the city and told him what was up. I had met him before in debate (Best consequence from taking debate). He set an appointment up for a month later. I went then, and he heard my story out. He then lowered the fee by 75$, and said that's the best he could do, unless I wanted to chance the fight in courts which I was bound to lose. I agreed. He went to the judge with me by him side and said, "Your honor, I was convinced by this young man's vigor, his nearly perfect grades, and sad pathetic story; I ask that we adjust the violation cost to seventy five dollars." Smiling, "I hate giving money back, though, agreed," and he looks at me as if I was the one getting the good deal. Still, out of pocket half of what I was, I could be said to be a happy man.

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