Read the DMV book

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One night, I was heading back to the station to do paperwork when I saw a car make a left turn from a side street as it drove between delineators and across a painted median.

As he turned, I was taken back to a cold and rainy morning in 1999 when I handled my very first fatal collision. It was at this same intersection where an 85 years old man made a left turn from a stop sign and was broadsided.

On the day of the fatal there were no delineators or painted medians. The design of the street changed sometime after that crash and I hadn’t been there for a call since.

I stopped the car and asked the driver for his license. He replied, “I don’t have it with me.”

“You forgot it or you don’t have a license?” I asked.

“I don’t have it with me.”

“You don’t have one, right?”

“No.”

During the stop we talked about the violation and who owned the car. He said he was the owner and he didn’t have insurance either. I asked, “Have you even taken the license test yet?”

The driver replied, “No, but the DMV book is in my glovebox.”

“Have you read it yet?”

“No,” he replied. He then added with a hopeful tone, “But I’ve looked through the pages.”

All I could do was shake my head and call for a tow truck. After he signed his ticket, the driver grabbed some belongings. When he was done I asked, “Did you get the DMV book?”

He nodded his head, reached into a bag and held it up like a winning lottery ticket. At least he remembered to take it. Maybe he’ll read it one day.

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