05 June 2010

speaking of speeding

So, on the way around town, it happens that
1) Apparently the tag/sticker on my license plate has fallen off, leaving the 2010 sticker exposed.
2) Apparently a state trooper has nothing better to do than pull people over when that happens and then be concerned that they're going 41 in a 35. In general, in Ohio anything under 10 over doesn't even show up in court as a ticket without some other violation (an accident, running stop light, etc). It's usually a waste of paperwork unless it's a construction zone or in front of a school because the fine is pretty low (court fees aren't). (All this is in spite of Ohio having been the nation's leading traffic ticket issuer for most years in the last decade, they could obviously issue a lot more if they chose to)
3) Apparently giving terse one word answers is "attitude". This is not. It is the only correct way to respond to one word answerable questions asked by a person who you have no interest in speaking to, such as a police officer who has pulled you over. If they ask "where you are going?" home, "where you are coming from?" work "why do you have an attitude?" Tired. Etc.
4) Apparently not telling the officer how fast you were going and instead stating that "I'd prefer to let you answer that" is also "attitude". There is no real correct response to "do you know how fast you were going?", both expected/routine answers to that question are incorrect ("I was speeding/going X" or "I don't know"). They should not be used under any circumstances (even if you really don't know or you were speeding, as I knew I was). The best answer appears to be more like "I'd prefer not to answer that question" or just say "Yes" if you can, don't volunteer more information, and wait for him to ask another more precise and less loaded question like "do you know what the speed limit is through here?", which you can continue to answer ambiguously (without indicating that you were exceeding it) or "how fast were you going?" before volunteering that you'd prefer him to tell you at this point why you have been pulled over instead of running down a litany of things that you could potentially end up being charged for instead of or in addition to whatever it is he's detained you for (for example saying "I don't know" to almost any question they could ask is an admission that you were "inattentively driving", which is in fact another thing they could ticket you for).

In the case here, I judged that it was, once he had decided to follow me, impossible for him to have been able to get an official speed which was outside legal limits (he never told me how fast I was going according to him, just that I was "speeding", which I of course knew). In that circumstance, with the tag only having fallen off rather than being really expired, it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn't going to issue a ticket without some other cause. So I was willing to be a bit more of a dick than normal people are within the acceptable risk that I wouldn't end up with a ticket. In fact, I more or less ignored him except for the part about looking at the sticker that I argued was there when it apparently was not. He can run that all he wants. It's legal and paid up for many months still so it's not like I was concerned that the sticker wasn't there when that became the issue that he justified the stop for.

Basically making the "excuse" that you are tired and on your way home grants some degree of liberty to make the relative inattentiveness to conversations seem legitimate rather than an act of resistance (which it was). And no. I will not be slowing down in the future. This occasion offered no reason to do so. Flow of traffic or a deserted road at night within the safe and expected engineered use speed for a road (usually 5 to 10 over what the posted speed is, especially on higher speed, non-local access roads, like that one) is pretty much going to be the speed determinations. Anything other than that is either a waste of time or a potential safety hazard. There are roads with a posted 35 that I'll go 35. Because there's a curve, less visibility, adverse weather conditions, or the houses are closer to the road and there are thus unpredictable road hazards (children playing, people pulling out of, or into driveways).

I'll just settle on getting the sticker replaced.

Update: This probably explains why he didn't bother telling me how fast he thought I was going. I should probably pay more attention to the brutal and repressive regime that is Ohio. Now it's sufficient for a cop to think you were speeding, with minimal training and expertise and no independent verification (just his word against yours in court). Great job....
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