This past Friday I was making the drive from Missoula to Spokane for my sister’s wedding. I was very anxious to get to Spokane as the wedding rehearsal was that night and I did not have a lot of time to spare. About 70 miles into the trip I ran into road construction that ended up costing me a lot of time. There is nothing more infuriating than when you are stopped in the middle of the open road in what seems like an endless stream of cars. Anyways, we finally got moving but the damage had been done to my schedule….I had no choice but to go a little faster than the posted speed limit.
As I was hauling westbound on I-90, a cop zoomed by me going eastbound. Even though there was a 5 foot tall concrete median that separated the westbound and eastbound traffic, I did not have a good feeling about the situation. I pumped my brakes and held my breath. I had my eyes glued on my rearview mirror. Thirty seconds passed…no cop. I looked down from my rearview mirror for just a second and was about to let out a sigh of relief when I sensed a fast moving car approaching. I looked up in my mirror and sure enough an Idaho State Trooper with its lights flashing was suddenly just a 100 feet away from me. I yelled four-letter words and pulled over to the side of the road.
How did this situation end up for me? You will find out below. For this post, I want to write about my top 3 “getting pulled over” stories. No, none of the three stories are too crazy but each one deals with a different jurisdiction and a different situation so I figured why not share? In my 9 years of driving (got license when 16, I am 24 now), I have been pulled over 9 or 10 times. That is getting pulled over about once a year so I must say that my driving record is not bad! I am at about 50% when it comes to receiving a ticket.
My philosophy when talking to cops, whether it be for a traffic/speeding infraction or in a non-vehicle situation, is to be as reserved and polite as possible. Let the cops do the asking of the questions. Do not interrupt, do not protest, do not be a jerk. It amazes me how many people treat cops like crap right to their face. This really bothers me. Of course it is dumb to act like an ass because the cop could very well throw you into the slammer or might give you a ticket that he intended not to give you in the first place, but mostly it is just in bad taste. Police officers are providing society with a very important and noble service. Their lives are on the line each day. They are protecting us. Show them some class. So that covers my “be as polite as possible” advice. But I also said to be reserved. When a cop approaches your drivers’ window, don’t be the over-the-top, “I’m your best buddy”, funny guy. Jokes/clichés/ice breakers need not apply. Convey to the officer that you are dialed into him/her and give them complete respect. Cops see the comedian/buddy act every single day. They cringe at it. Obviously, you are getting pulled over because you made a mistake. Just be as respectful as possible to the cop and make the process as easy on him as possible. It will get you a lot further than trying to win over the cop with your fake BS.
Okay, now that I got my two cents in, here are my top three moments of getting pulled over:
#3 Best Story
Law Enforcement Agency: Idaho State Troopers
Reason for Getting Pulled Over: Speeding
The Situation: As I outlined at the start of this post, I was running late for my sister’s wedding rehearsal and had to make up some time by going above the posted speed limit. I was right outside Wallace, Idaho, when I noticed a cop going in the opposite direction as me. Despite a 5 foot median separating us, he managed to find some opening and pulled me over. The cop comes up to my window and asks why I am in such a hurry. I tell him my reason. He asks if I know the speed limit. I told him, “Yes officer, 55 miles per hour.” He says, “Well I understand you have to be at your sister’s rehearsal cause those things are big deals, but I clocked you at 79 MPH. That is a little too fast. Hold tight bud.” Well obviously my fate was already sealed, the question was just how much the fine was going to be. Thankfully the trooper did not take long running everything. When he stepped back out of the car I immediately saw the ticket. He comes up to my window and says, “I hate to pick on you buddy but you were going way too fast. That is why the fine is so much. Please take care of it as soon as possible.” I did not look at the ticket until the cop turned away to walk back to his car…yikes.
Time it Took Cop to Run License and Registration/Produce Citation: 10 minutes
Professionalism/Fairness of the Cop on a Scale of 1-10: 10
End Result: $150 ticket
#2 Best Story
Law Enforcement Agency: Spokane County Sheriff’s Department
Reason for Getting Pulled Over: Suspicion of Drunk Driving
The Situation: It was during the summer five years ago. I was driving my P.O.S. 1989 red Nissan sentra. It was around 2:30am as me and some friends were driving to a casino. I turned onto a main street from one of the smaller side streets. The main street had 3 lanes but instead of pulling into the closest one I pulled into the middle lane. Suddenly, like a snake in the grass a Spokane sheriff deputy squad car pulls out onto the street with its lights flashing. It is always way more nerve wracking to see flashing cop lights at night rather than during the day. Anyways, this cop comes up to the window and asks if I knew why I got pulled over. I honestly did not have a clue but I took a guess anyways and said speeding. The cop told me I was wrong and told me to guess again. I responded by asking if one of my tail lights was out. Thankfully he just ended the guessing game right there and told me I had made a “wide turn”. In other words, he was looking to bust someone for drinking and driving. He asked if I had been drinking that night and I told him no. And let me tell everyone this right now, I had not had a single drop of alcohol all day long. It was funny though because for some reason I was still nervous. Anyways, he asks for my license and he takes it and says to me “Dude, what is going on with your hair?” My license photo was taken when I had a dirty mop of hair that went down to my shoulders. I gave the cop a courtesy laugh. He went and ran my info. My friends in the car are just telling me to relax and go with it, as I had nothing to be afraid of. The cop comes back, He asked again “have you been drinking?” I responded no. He then asked me questions about where I had been and what I was doing. He then asked again, “Are you sure you have not been drinking?” I said again, no. He then administers the pen test on me. He says “You have very active eyes son. Mind stepping out of the car?” I comply and he asks me to walk the line, putting one foot in front of the other. I give him absolutely no reason to continue the charade but he then asks me if I would consent to a breathalyzer. I said “YES PLEASE.” I was more than happy to have the opportunity to objectively prove my innocence. He had me blow into the straw and I look up at him and say “zeros?” He nods and says, “Sir, please watch those wide turns. Here is a souvenir for you to show your parents,” as he gives me the straw that I blew into!! Cool.
Time it Took Cop to Run License and Registration: 15 minutes
Professionalism/Fairness of the Cop on a Scale of 1-10: 6
End Result: I got to take home a breathalyzer straw.
#1 Best Story
Law Enforcement Agency: Ronan Police Department
Reason for Getting Pulled Over: Reckless Driving
The Situation: Two years ago I was driving back from Kalispell to Missoula with a friend. Sure, I may have been passing a few cars on the way but nothing out of the ordinary. When you make the drive from Kalispell to Missoula, you go through a bunch of very small towns that all of a sudden just creep up on you. One second the speed limit will be 70 MPH and the next it will drop all the way down to 35 MPH. No joke. One of the small towns you drive through is called Ronan. It is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation so they are their own jurisdiction independent of any state or federal government. Well I hit Ronan and the speed limit drops. I did not slow down fast enough because now I have cop lights flashing behind me. I pull over into this run down shopping area parking lot. It takes the cop 10 minutes just to get out of the car. He comes up to my window, “We have received complaints that you were driving recklessly 20 miles back. You are also speeding through my town. License and registration and I need your I.D. too” (as he addresses my friend). He takes our stuff and goes back to his car. The waiting game then begins. Ten minutes go by, twenty minutes go by, it hits a half hour. By this time, everyone in the shopping center is standing outside watching this all unfold. My friend is freaking out, thinking there must be some warrant out for him if the cop is taking so long. I am nervous as hell too. He finally gets out of his car and comes to the window. He says, “Well Brent, I got some good news and some bad news for you. Good news is we can’t verify the claims that other motorists made against you (I doubt there were any). But the bad news is that since you were going over twenty miles the speed limit here in town, that constitutes reckless driving. Do you have any cash on you?” I answer “Um, $40.” The cop responds, “Well I am going to need $140 from you or I am going to have to arrest you since you are from out of state” (I had a Washington State drivers’ license). I am absolutely beside myself and my friend yells at the cop. I really can’t believe this is happening. Knowing that there is no way I am going to spend a night in the Ronan jail if I can help it, I ask the cop if I can use the ATM machine that I can see inside the grocery store in the shopping area. The cop looks over and agrees. I walk across the parking lot while everyone is watching and the cop is following me in his squad car (is this really necessary??) to the ATM. I pray to God that the machine is functioning and that it accepts my card. It does. I take the seven $20 bills and hand them off to the cop without saying a word. I honestly do love cops and have total respect for all law enforcement but that guy was not a cop. He was not out to protect and serve. He was out to rip off poor college kids and take advantage of patrolling a reservation. Bush league.
Time it Took Cop to Run License and Registration/Produce Citation: 35 minutes
Professionalism/Fairness of the Cop on a Scale of 1-10: 1
End Result: I handed a cop $140 in cash
Please feel free to tell me any good pull over stories you have had with the law. Please remember to respect law enforcement and Don’t Blink.