Friday, November 10, 2006

Tail Light Justice

So, it's Friday night. And I was driving from Kwik-Fill, where I just got gas, to Wegmans. I'm driving into the plaza Wegmans is in and notice there is a cop behind me, with his lights flashing.

I pull over and the cop informs me that he pulled me over because a.) my muffler is too loud and b.) my tail lights are out.

Well, per the muffler, I informed him that I have my car's stock muffler, and fortunately that was about the last I heard about the muffler. But then he proceeded to write me a ticket for my my tail light being out. Now, I'm totally for driving around without tail lights being illegal. That's dangerous. Makes sense. But why not simply inform the person, record the fact you warned them "in the system" and then only if the person gets pulled over again do you give them a ticket? After all, I really don't think there are a bunch of people intentionally and maliciously driving around without tail lights!

He then gave me an extra ticket because although my insurance is plenty up to date, my insurance card is out of date. It expired at the end August. It's now November 10.

The cop informs me that if I get the tail light fixed, when I go to court they should dismiss the ticket. And if I bring proof of insurance, they should dismiss that too.

OK, so Mr. Cop - why are you writing me tickets you believe will be dismissed?! That seems like a great use the tax payer's dollars!

Finally, he asks me if I have any questions. I don't really, and maybe I should have just shut up. Instead, I said something like "this seems strange to me; I grew up in Pennsylvania where if your tail light is out, they simply give you a warning." His initial response was that basically this isn't Pennsylvania. Fair enough. He also made reference to "well, in Pennsylvania, they give you a ticket if you are doing 1 over (the speed limit.)" I wonder what the speed limit really is in New York. Funny how they paint those numbers on the signs and then apparently cops quasi-officially or even really officially don't even enforce the actual number (but don't get me started on speed limits!). Anyway, at least now I realize I got's it so good in New York!

Then, in his continued response to my question, he decided to point out that, if he wanted to, he could have my car towed and he totaled the towing fees and the storage fees (since it's Friday and I wouldn't be able to pick my car up until Monday) which came to like $150. Fortunately, he didn't decide to do this. I didn't make me like him any more though. Neither did it make me more appreciative that he was forcing me to go to court over a tail light when a warning would have served the public interest equally well (and perhaps even better).

He then further continued (my previous quotations, this is, in fact, verbatim):

Officer: Where do you work?
Me: In Pittsford.
Officer: What do you do?
Me: Computer stuff.
Officer: If you boss asks you to do something, do you do it?
Me: Uhh, Yeah.
Officer: Well, my boss told me to go write tickets.

UGH! I'd be quite glad if his boss told him to go "enforce the law" -- that's what the tax payers pay him to do! -- but then it became quite clear that the reason he wrote me a ticket instead of giving me a warning is because he obviously has (officially or otherwise) some quota of tickets to give out. Lucky him, he got to take care of two!

AND - it gets better! (And this is what spurred me to blog about this!)


Immediately after getting the ticket, I checked them out in the parking lot. Observe... (sorry for the crappy quality, camera phone.)

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:


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