I wasn’t texting

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On Friday night, I was stopped for a red light when the glow of a cell phone caught my eye in the car next to me.

I looked over and saw the driver holding the phone in her hand as she touched the screen. She then opened up an iMessage and started texting with both thumbs.

The light turned green and traffic started to go, but I waited for the driver to proceed forward. With the phone still in her hand and thumbs flying across the keyboard at 200 words a minute, the car started to go.

I took my foot off the gas and rolled forward just as the driver looked over at me. Amazingly the phone dropped from view like a rock plummeting to the bottom of a pond.

I got behind her and put my lights on to stop the car. Little did the driver know this was going to be an educational stop rather than a ticket as long as she didn’t lie.

After the car stopped, I walked up to the driver door and asked her for her driver’s license. After she handed me her license I asked, “Why were you texting?”

The driver said, “I wasn’t texting.”

Really???

“You were texting while the car was moving.”

“I was getting directions.”

“You have an iPhone. I have an iPhone. I know what a iMessage looks like. You were texting. I watched you open up the screen and type something. You then opened up an iMessage and started texting.”

At this point the teenager raised the white flag of surrender and said she was texting. I looked at her license and saw that the birth year was 2000.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“I’m 16.”

It was 11PM and she had two passengers. In California you can’t drive between 11PM and 5AM, nor can you transport passengers under age of 20 years old in the first year.

I looked at both passengers and asked them their ages. Both were 17 years old. I looked at the driver and asked, “What’s the restriction on your license?”

She told me she knew about not transporting passengers and driving after 11PM.

I said, “I’m going to write you a ticket for the passengers, but not the cell phone.” I explained that new drivers her age get distracted easily and are usually at fault when they crash with passengers in their car and while disobeying the restriction.

I think it stung a little when I told her, “If you told the truth I wouldn’t have noticed your age or the restriction.”

Hopefully she learned something from the stop.

Did she hang up on me?

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The other night I drove to a person’s house to try and contact them about a traffic collision they were involved in the week before. The driver wasn’t home, but I got their phone number from someone who lived there.

I drove around the corner and pulled over so I could call her. The phone rang once and she said, “Hello?”

I told her my name and what police department I was from. I then asked, “Were you in a car accident last week?”

“Yes.”

I explained to her that I was the officer investigating the crash and asked, “Can you tell me what happened?”

“I’m driving. I can’t talk right now.”

“But you answered the phone,” I said shaking my head. “Can you pull over and tell me what happened then?”

“I’m driving. I can’t talk.” She then hung up.

I looked at my phone with a confused look as I wondered what just happened. What the heck was this lady talking about? It sure didn’t bother her to answer the phone when she was driving. Now she can’t talk when the cops call?

I hit redial.

Ring, ring, ring, ring, voicemail.

“Hi, this is the officer you just hung up on. Can you call me back so I can ask you what happened about the accident? I work until 3AM.” I left the department phone number and hung up as I said, “Thank you” in an overly cheerful voice.

Five minutes later I hit redial again, but it went back to voicemail. I never heard back from her the rest of the night. Did she think this was a random police calling sting where we try to catch you on the phone?

I guess I scared her into not using her phone for a while. I bet she had to fight the urge to touch it for the next hour, expecting it to be the cops to see if she answered again.

Part of me wanted to call at 3AM just so I could hang up on her too.

“Hi, this is Officer………” Click.

We could call it even then.