Facing Jail Time

Facing Jail Time

Hey Team,

I have a little exercise for you. Close your eyes and picture this (How you’re going to continue reading with your eyes closed is your own problem…let me know how it goes.):

The speedometer reads 85 mph. It’s dark…and late. Ben, the BFG (you know this one), is folded up in the passenger seat dozing off. We’ve been in the car for 10-12 hours at this point but we’re making good time. (Obviously. I mean, come on, the speedometer reads 85 mph.)

I see a cop car waiting by the side of the road off in the distance (and by “distance” I mean I saw him JUST as I past his darkened car).

“Shoot!” Before he even had time to pull out into traffic and turn his siren on I was already in the far right lane signaling toward the shoulder.

I have a couple hard and fast rules when it comes to getting pulled over. One of them is that I ALWAYS get out of the car. Maybe I’m wrong about this one but I feel like it puts you on the same level as the officer and you get to be a person instead of just a floating head that they look down on and hand a ticket too. Of course this tactic almost always gets you yelled at.

Or a gun gets drawn on you. (It’s not a move for the faint of heart.)

This time, because I was in someone else’s car, I decided to stay put and get everything ready. As soon as he steps up to the window I stick out my license and registration and start my pitch.

“I’m SO sorry officer, that was completely stupid. I wasn’t even looking at the speedometer until I saw you and realized how fast I was going–”

“Here’s the situation, I’m GOING to give you a ticket. You were going way too fast and there’s no way out of it.” He was very stern and obviously in no mood for jokes. “Do you know how fast you were going?”

“When I looked down as I passed you it said 85.”

“You were going 83.”

“Yes! That’s better than I thought! Saved two whole miles per hour!”

“This is a 65 mph zone.”

Turns out I was right. Definitely not in the mood for jokes.

He looked down at my license and explained that California and five other states are part of a group that have to pay their fines immediately in the state of Ohio.

“You have three options. You can come with me and we’ll get you a money order that you can make out to the State of Ohio. If you have a Visa or MasterCard I can process the payment in my car. Or you can go to jail.”

“How much is the fine?”

“For speeding it will be $130 dollars.”

“Officer I don’t even own that much money. Is there ANY way you could just let me off with a warning. It was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention but I can’t honestly say–”

“I’m not going to argue with you on this! You were going way too fast! Those are your options! What do you want to do?” (Now, when you read this you may say to yourself, “That’s pretty harsh. Brett wasn’t even arguing. He was just negotiating. Pleading maybe…but not arguing.” You’re right.)

“I told you, I don’t HAVE 130 dollars. It doesn’t sound like I have an option.”

“All right. Get out of the car.” He motioned to the flashing lights behind me. “Step to the back of the cruiser and keep your hands where I can see them.”

As he instructs me to place my hands on the trunk of his car so he can search me I turn to make one final plea. “Officer, I don’t–”

“I said, turn around!!”

My back to the officer and my hands outspread I explain, “I have a credit card with me but I don’t think I have enough credit left on it to cover this. If you want to try to run it before we go through all this…”

“Give it here.” He holds out his hand and manages to not yell at me when I turn to face him and dig my credit card out of my pocket. When I pull out the Visa he sees that there’s another card right behind it and makes some passing mention of it. “Go back to your vehicle and wait inside.”

I sat back down next to Ben who was at a loss for what to do. He handled the entire situation with complete aplomb and offered to pay for the fine or wait in Cleveland for the next day while I serve out my jail time but by this time I had kind of come to terms with the adventure of the whole situation. I had never been to jail before and–

“BRETT! CLOSE YOUR DOOR!” The officer boomed from his car’s PA.

If I was ever going to go to jail I would be hard pressed to think of a better situation. It’s not like anyone is ever going to fault me for not having the cash on me to pay for a speeding ticket.

Plus, being as disasters make the best stories, it would make for a crazy adventure if I ended up going to jail a quarter of the way across the country from where I needed to be and had to find a way to St. Louis afterwards. So, just as I had made up my mind that going to jail was the choice for me (good thing too, since it didn’t actually seem to be a “choice”) the officer comes back.

“That one didn’t work. Give me the other one.”

“Okay, but I know I don’t have 130 dollars on this one either.”

He took the card without saying another word and two minutes later he was back in my window proffering my card.

“Wow. You really don’t have any money do you?”

“No sir.” I thought I had already mentioned that but decided not to make a joke about that this time.

“Wait here.” He went back to his car…without yelling at me. I figured that was a good sign.

Moments later he was back again. This time with my license and the registration in his hand. “I’m not sure why– I really don’t know– You’re lucky. I think I feel bad for you. I don’t know why but–” He paused.

“Just make sure this doesn’t happen again. If you were going 85 it would have been a reckless endangerment charge. Keep it to the speed limit and consider yourself lucky that you ran into the one guy that decided to give you a break.”

“Thank you so much officer.” I reached out and shook his hand, exchanged smiles and went on about my business of making bad time the rest of the drive.

Okay…I’m done.


12 Replies to “Facing Jail Time”

  1. I just wanted to point out the fact that each brush seems to get worse. I’m thinking you better just take the next ticket before you wind up skipping it altogether. Then where would you be?

  2. Okay, so you are in the Cleveland area and you don’t even call or anything? Driving that long, you could have used a nap. You could have used a home cooked meal. You could have crashed here!!!

    Heck, if you told me what bloody exit, I could have met you with a meal packed for the road.

    Yes, I know, that is not the point of the story, but I had to yell, it’s the mom in me since I know yelling over the 85 mph thing wouldn’t do any good.

  3. Going to jail would have been a better story.

    Hope to catch up with you next time you’re in cornfield territory.

  4. Yea Brett, You were very lucky. My heart goes out to you, BUT, being out of State, the Police seems to love it. Be really careful when you are out of state like that, or even in your own state. But enough flapping my jaws, All we want is for you to be happy and careful. I won’t say it, but you know how we feel. Grandma

  5. Firstly, your da’ and grand parents not only use the internet, but comment on your blog. Kick ass.

    Secondly, why the hell were you doing 85!? At night!! How the hell is this list going to get finished if you’re dead? Or how the hell would you pay for hospital bills if you got in a wreck? You couldn’t even pay a $130 fine!

    *grrrs at you*

  6. Not that I’d ever want to see anyone I know in jail, but I must say I was intrigued by the title…

    Good story. Actually, amazing story. And well-told at that.
    Come to think of it.. I’ve gotten 2 speeding tickets in the past year. So on that note, you actually suck.

    Best of luck on your next adventure!

  7. Okay…

    Popamtrekker, what do you mean worse?! How much better can a story about getting pulled over get without actually going to jail?

    diane77! I was DYING to stop for you but 1. I don’t have your number. 2. It was midnight when I passed through and 3. I had a “stranger” with me. Next time. For sure!

    TheKendall, I’ll probably be NEAR the corn for awhile yet. I’m on my way to St. Louis first thing in the morning.

    Grandma and Grandpa! Look at you kids skatin’ around the internet like it’s your own personal playground!

    Patch, how the hell is this list going to get finished if I’m always poking around at the speed limit?! I practically HAD to go 85. I’m like a Tare…or a Hortise…whatever you would call a weird tortise and hare hybrid that moves fast and never sleeps.

    Thanks, ESC!

  8. Ok, I’m impressed Brett, but I would have been MORE impressed if you had just stated that you were stupid and thanked the officer for his time and then handed him a card and drove off…

  9. Let’s be honest, I am impressed because mike or I would have both paid the fine AND gone to jail. It would go something like, “did you know you have a warrant for an unpaid seatbelt ticket?” or “did you know you have a warrant for having silly hair?”
    “stupid utah,” I’d say, as I was being handcuffed.
    …and maybe this hypothetical situation was how I spent christmas eve 2005 in a 3-piece suit, maybe. Stupid Utah.

  10. One of them is that I ALWAYS get out of the car. Maybe I’m wrong about this one but I feel like it puts you on the same level as the officer and you get to be a person instead of just a floating head that they look down on and hand a ticket too.

    Never do this again please.

    The most dangerous thing for a police officer is a traffic stop. They never know who they are stopping. In the last three years there has been three police officers who have been murdered in my county. And two of those officers were murdered on a routine traffic stop. As in, a traffic stop so routine that all we got was a description of the car, and where the stop occurred. Both times, the police officers were alone. And we’ve only solved one of those murders.

    You don’t get out of the car because they want to be able to control and see your movement. You get out of the car, you have free range of motion. You could be pulling a gun out of your waist band. They can’t tell if you are Joe Citizen or Parolee at Large. It’s not as simple you want to deal with the cops on your terms. It’s a matter of life or death for them. It really is.

    So the next time you get pulled over, please stay in the car. You will survive the encounter. You might even survive a night in jail when some cop with an ego and a a lack of understanding of the Constitution carries through with their threat.

    But the officer who doesn’t practice the exact same safety protocol on EVERY CALL EVERY TIME has a good chance of getting shot and/or killed. It’s a fine fine line they walk when they are patrolling alone late at night, so please make it easier for the cop pulling you over by not getting out. You’re probably the eighth stop he’s made that night, between the drug dealer and the drunk driver. Cut him a break.

  11. Judy sent me an email with that message in it, plus some other more personal stuff. I asked her to repost it here to show everyone not to listen to me and how big a jerk I can be. Sorry, Team.

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