My Traffic Stop (A Reflection)Submitted by MikeFWT210 on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 11:19
I wish to take a look back at last night's traffic stop which occurred around 1115pm. I present this reflection with the goal of looking at it thoughtfully, to find if there are things that I could have done differently, as a freedom lover. Upvote or Downvote, it doesn't matter, this is more of a personal reflection, but I would appreciate all feedback if you would like to present it. It is a bit long, so I'm sorry if reading this only wastes your time, haha.
Lights flash. Time for the "routine". I pull over and shut off the vehicle, keys on the dashboard. The window gets rolled down, a little less than halfway, and I say "Good evening Officer". Officer "T", seeming a little taken-aback by the fact that I presented myself first, responds, "I'm doing fine tonight, thank you. Are you aware of the reason I am stopping you tonight?". I don't remember answering "Yes" or "No", but he presented the reasoning before my needing to do so anyways. I have a rear-running tail light that is out. Seemingly easy fix, but it is a common electrical issue in my make of vehicle, VW Jetta.
I say, "Yes officer I am aware. It is an electrical issue that I intend on taking care of when I am able to afford the time and money to get my timing belt fixed, which is soon." This seemed to be a reasonable answer to his question, as to how an out traffic light isn't a "criminal" offense. He says, "Completely understandable sir, thank you. Do you have your Driver's License, registration, and proof of insurance?".
At this point, I would like to state that Officer T was very courteous and seemingly understanding of my situation. What is further presented is not an attack on the Officer who carried out the stop. He seemed like a nice gentleman who was "just doing his job" and I won't hold that against him.
I scramble for the required documents in my glove-box and come to realize that my insurance card had been renewed only 15 days ago. I still have insurance, but I did not have the updated card in my vehicle. I give the officer, my license and registration and tell him about my insurance. No problem, so it seems, but he goes back to his vehicle to run my information.
(Now my thinking will come in. Sorry if this becomes an annoyance to the reader.)
Upon his return, he comes back with my documents and a clipboard. He asks If I was employed in the area or if I was unemployed. (At this question I was taken a little-aback. Looking back, my first response should have been, "What is the nature of your inquiry?" or "Are you conducting a criminal investigation?". I had not known the reason for his question at the time... I fumbled the ball)
I ended up answering questions that I probably shouldn't have. I answer "yes" to being employed, my employers status as a local company, and answered him when he had asked for my phone number.
Officer T, "Thank you. Now this is not a traffic violation or an admission of guilt. You DO have a scheduled court date, but should you present proof of insurance prior to that date, all charges will be dropped and no records will be established." He hands me the clipboard with the citation, and I look it over to read it. I ask, "So if I present proof, there will be no charges or fines imposed on me?". No. I look over it some more, thinking of my next move. (In retrospect, the wrong one in my opinion. Obviously it would have led to a completely different set of circumstances, though. I'm thinking those through as well...) I ask, "Do I have to sign this?". He responds, "You don't have to sign anything...". After a few more seconds of thought, I went ahead and signed the damn thing, and that is the end of my traffic stop.
Should I have signed it? I am very aware of the fact that my vehicle has a malfunction, and it is completely understandable to be stopped by POLICy Enforcers over it. That's not even why the citation was written. The reason for that was my expired Insurance card. It's only been expired for a couple of weeks, and it's not necessarily something that an everyday citizen thinks about on the daily. I could have maybe pulled up the updated information on my cellphone... He could love looked with his eyes, and not his hands ;-) (too bad I didn't think of that at the time...). It seems a little aggressive to schedule a court date for something like this. Albeit, the loopholes provided do make this go away really easily.
I feel like I should have NOT signed the citation. I certainly didn't agree with it (despite the pettiness).This action would have most likely led to the officer writing another citation for refusing to sign the other one, guaranteeing my taking this to court.
Hindsight, maybe I took the easy route by going along with the ticket. Hmmm, but was it the Principled route? I will certainly keep my guard up for future encounters with law enforcement, to not go along with their questioning so compliantly. Had I been the officer I would have just let me go, and not wasted a citizen's time after the notice for the tail light.
Maybe it wasn't necessary to write all this down, but I did pick up some experience for future encounters. Lol, and sorry if you are reading this and are thinking to yourself, "I wasted my time reading all that!". I need the writing experience :)