Thursday, June 30, 2016

Traffic Violation

I've had my driver's license for 33 years and haven't read a driver's manual in about 34 years.  You may be far removed from studying for those tests as well, so let's have a pop quiz, shall we?:

If you are driving down the highway and see a policeman who has pulled someone over on the right, off the highway, and you are traveling in the right lane, are you required to merge to the next lane over?

I'll give you time to think on that.

Yes you say?  Bravo because you are right and kudos for you knowing that.  I would have answered no, and not only am I wrong, but I now have a traffic date in court.  

While I was traveling home the other night, I was almost to my exit that takes me home when I saw the above mentioned scene ahead of me.  I looked to see if the right lane was blocked or obstructed, and it wasn't.  Since my exit was just past this scene, I didn't want to get over unless absolutely necessary.  It was about 9pm and the sun was setting in my rearview mirror causing some glare.  As I approached this scene, I saw the cop on the side of the road throwing his arm to the left like he had a charlie horse in his elbow.  I took that to mean "get over" though I didn't get it, but I checked the ability to merge left, and then did.  Shortly after, I merged back to the right lane since I was about to exit.  And that's when my night went south.

I see his flashing lights behind me.  I first thought, "Did I swerve?  Do I have a tail light out?"  Seriously, I had no idea why I was getting pulled over.  It crossed my mind I didn't merge left fast enough so I expected a stern talking to and a pass on a citation.  Au contraire, mon frer.  Not the case.

He came to my window and asked for my driver's license, insurance card and registration.  Praise Jesus I had all those things and knew where to find them!  He was gone for a while, apparently making sure I wasn't on the lam from some high stakes murder ring.  The police officer returned, handed all my paperwork and IDs and said, "Here is your court date."  I asked, "Officer, can you explain the offense?"  He said, "Sure, you didn't observe right of way for an emergency vehicle.  Did you see me motioning you to get over into the next lane??  Did you see my flashing arrow?"  I said, "I didn't see a flashing arrow..." Interrupting the officer said, "Well it was flashing."  I continued, " I saw you motioning and I got over as soon as I could."  Mr. Policeman said, "No you didn't.  You didn't get over."  I replied as calmly as possible, "I did get over.  But I got back in the right lane because this is my exit."  He replied, "Ok, so you got over, but it was past me."  And he walked off.  

It took all the grace of God to keep me from going off.  I'm a pretty level-headed, calm person, but I was furious.  Not only did I not know this was a violation, this citation was court only.  No pre-payment to avoid court, or traffic school as an option.  Given it was June 28, I can only think my citation was to help meet his monthly quota.  

I plan to plead at my court date that I had no idea of this law - friends have told me it's fairly new - and that unless those types of laws are communicated, I can't abide by them.  If we are supposed to get over in the next lane, put a barricade in the right lane and there will be no question.  I know ignorance doesn't stand up in a court of law, but maybe my southern charm will help.  

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