Last Friday radio host and local political celebrity Marc Abrams made the front page of the Oregonian for receiving a ticket for following a police car that was exceeding the speed limit.
At 88mph, Marc was clearly guilty. Yet, something in me knows that these traffic situations are not as black and white as they seem. Hasn’t anyone else found themselves being prodded by a car behind you to speed up, only to find out that the car is an unmarked police vehicle? The Coburg speed trap scandal last year helped to expose a system designed to entrap motorists to help fund the city’s general fund.
To fuel such “I swear I’m innocent” theories and maybe offer some empathy for Marc, I offer these two traffic-ticket horror stories that happened to the same person.
One evening I was driving through a small Oregon town where the Police were notorious for hassling drivers for any possible reason. I drove slowly and carefully, especially the traditional spots where the police are known to wait. As I traveled past the spot, I was not surprised when the police car pulled out of the parking lot and began to follow me. Knowing I had not done anything in violation of the law, I continued to travel very carefully with the officer behind me.
Imagine my surprise when the familiar red and blue lights came on once I passed the city limits, where the speed limit is 55. I asked why I am being pulled over and the officer tells me that I had traveled through town at 55 mph, and that he had me on radar. I could not believe it. Not only were the charges fictional, the cop actually probably had pre-planned the scenario. I wondered how many others had been victim to his scam.
Of course I contested the charges. When I found myself in court telling my story, I was at a loss because how does one prove their innocence for something like that? I felt angry and scammed when the judge stated that he would find it unconscionable to think that one of his officers would do such a thing, and didn’t even entertain the possibility that it was the truth.
One more story for the road….
I was traveling back into Portland when car in front of me was traveling at a slower pace, and was opting for the far left lane. Approaching the vehicle, the driver in front of me proceeds to repeatedly slam on its breaks and then accelerate to resume the same speed as the car in the next lane over. After several incidents like this, I began to make it my mission to pass the vehicle. With the vehicle pacing the vehicle to its right, the mission was going to need careful planning. When I found my opening, I took it. I had to accelerate swiftly and weave between the cars in order to get around the offender. The offender then proceeded to tailgate me. I sped up to just get away from the recklessness of that driver.
That evening a Portland Police Officer arrived at my home in Tigard. It turned out that the driver was a police officer on his way to work. Once on duty, he felt compelled to drive all the way out to my home to issue me three different citations for reckless driving, traveling too close and speeding. I anxiously waited for the court date to see how he would explain the situation to the Judge, and to see him try to justify his behavior. Imagine my disappointment when he didn’t even show up for court, which I thought was the most cowardly misuse of public resources ever.
How about your traffic-ticket horror story….