A dumb excuse

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A few weeks ago, it was a rainy Friday night when I heard one of the dumbest excuses ever.  It was 2AM when I arrived at a crash where an officer pointed to a driver and said he was unlicensed.

During the interview with the driver I asked, “Who owns the car you were driving?”

“My mom.”

“Does she know you don’t have a license.”

“Yeah.”

After I was done talking with the son, I spoke to mom.

“Did you know he is unlicensed?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Why did you let him drive.”

“He was practicing.”

Practicing? That was the best she could come up with ?

“In the middle of the night and in the rain?” I asked with a surprised tone in my voice.

In the end,  the car was impounded for 30 days. Mom and son both got tickets. Mom for allowing an unlicensed person to drive her car and son for being unlicensed. 

Here’s the ironic part. Mom was the one who called the cops because she thought the other driver was DUI…… He wasn’t. 

 

When the rules don’t apply to some people

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The other night I was at a crash where one of the drivers was unlicensed. Though translation, the woman told me she lived in California for 20 years and was never issued a driver’s license.

I asked her if she had ever been given a ticket before. She replied she had not. Part of me found that hard to believe. Not many people in their 40s can go that long without being stopped for a traffic violation.

I decided to use my Bluecheck fingerprint device to check her identify. I asked her if she had ever had ever been fingerprinted before. With some hesitation the woman replied she had. I asked why and she told me it was because of a DUI crash she was involved in years ago.

I guess getting a DUI was not a ticket to her.

I next ran the driver’s name on the computer and found her DMV record, which showed the DUI conviction from 2008. I also found a conviction for driving on a suspended license in 2011. Her license status showed “suspended or revoked.”

Didn’t I just ask if she had ever been given a ticket?

When I asked about the ticket on her driving record her daughter said her mom sometimes forgets things.

Like the truth?

“Most people remember when they get a ticket for driving on a suspended license,” I replied. I next asked, “Did your car impounded when you got your ticket?”

“Yes.”

After all of this, I told the woman her car was being impounded because her license was suspended. That’s when she asked for a chance to keep the car. Really?

When I said no she got upset.

I always find it funny how people get upset when I do my job after they make bad decisions. I guess the rules and laws are more like “guidelines” for some people.

 

Get a license

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I go to a lot of traffic collisions involving drivers who are unlicensed. You’d be shocked how often this happens. It happens so much, I’m amazed when I go to a call where all of the drivers have licenses. When that happens, I want to hug each driver just for following the damn rules.

This past weekend reached new lows when it comes to unlicensed driver crashes. On Friday night I went to a crash where a driver with a suspended license crashed into an unlicensed driver.

It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I find it kind of ironic. Out of the thousands of cars on the street at that moment, what are the chances of those two finding each other and crashing?

Fast forward to Saturday night.

The night was very busy and I ended up handling six crash investigations. Of those six, three involved unlicensed drivers. On the first call, an unlicensed driver made a left turn in front of a woman with a suspended license. On the next crash, an unlicensed driver was involved in a street race when he lost control and hit another car. On the third crash, an unlicensed DUI driver rear ended an unlicensed woman.

The night left the tow truck companies happy because of all the money they’re going to make from the impounds. I wondered what was going on. Had the world turned upside down and all of the unlicensed drivers landed in my city to conduct a game of demolition derby?

After almost 6,000 collisions and over 15 years of working traffic, I have never seen that many crashes involving unlicensed driver in such a short time.

By the end of the night I just wanted to make it to the freeway in one piece and avoid being another unlicensed driver victim.  That happened to me once while I was on-duty a long time ago, but that’s for another blog story.

Do you have a license?

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The excuses people tell me never get old. Sometimes it seems like the excuses are the same every time, but every once in a while you get to hear a new one.

The other night I was watching a stop sign when an SUV drove through it at approximately 15 miles per hour. I went after the car and stopped it. I walked up to the car and waited for the driver to lower the window. The window was broken so she opened the door. The fact that the driver side window was broken was probably a hint of things to come.

I asked, “Why didn’t you stop for the stop sign?”

The woman, who was in her mid-twenties said, “I made a fast stop,”

I pointed to her car and asked, “Is your car stopped right now?”

“Yes.”

“Did your car ever get like this at the stop sign?”

“No,” she said as she lowered her head.

“So, how fast were you going when you went through the stop sign?”

“Maybe 15 to 20 miles per hour.”

I asked, “How come you didn’t stop?”

“I stopped last time I went through.”

At least we can count on her stopping 50% of the time. Since she was being honest I decided to let her go with a warning, assuming she had all of the correct and current paperwork. But you know what they say when you “assume” something?

In the Badge415 world, you at least need a driver’s license to get a break from me. It’s not too much to ask for a person to have a driver’s license and current insurance. Call me crazy, but those are basic laws people are supposed to follow. A person should have those instead of excuses when I stop them.

The moment of truth came for the crucial question of the evening. I threw all caution to the wind and asked, “Do you have a license?”

“No. It’s expired.”

I just laughed inside. It always seems to happen like this. The person was so close to driving away with a warning, but instead they’re the subject of a blog story. Oh well, I tried to give her a break. It just didn’t work out.

I asked, “Why is your license expired?”

“I renewed my identification card by accident thinking it was my license.”

What?

Now, that was a new excuse I had never heard. The funny thing was her identification card was issued in 2014 and her license expired in May of 2015. Either way the math didn’t add up, but I applauded her creativity.

In the end she got a ticket for being unlicensed and I gave her a break on the stop sign. She also had to wait for her brother to show up and take the car. If she had only stopped, I would’ve never found out about her expired license.

Until the next time I stop someone. Maybe they’ll have a driver’s license…… I hope.

The 12 year old who drives

 

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The other day I gave two traffic presentations at a junior high school. The first class were eighth graders and the second were seventh graders. Before the first class started, the teacher told me the seventh graders were going to be a challenging audience compared to the eighth graders.

The first presentation went off without a problem. The kids had good questions and liked the crash pictures I showed them. When class ended, the kids clapped and most of them shook my hand as they walked out. Wow, what a group.

Then the next class came in. There were nice and attentive for a while, but the teacher was right. This group of kids were more challenging for sure.

During the second class there was this boy in the front row that was restless and talked a lot. I figured he was one of the people the teacher was talking about. At one point he held up his hand and said, “I’ve driven a car before.”

“Really? Where?” I asked.

“In the desert.”

I didn’t know what to say to him other than, “OK.”

He then said, “And on the street.”

“You mean the city street?”

“Yeah.”

As a joke I asked, “Where do you live?” but I didn’t expect anyone to get it.

The boy was about to answer when another boy in the front row started laughing. I looked at him and asked, “Did you get my joke?”

He nodded and said he had. I put my hand up in the air and said, “Give me a high five since you were the only one that got that.” The kid smiled and slapped my hand.

I looked back to the the unlicensed driver in the front row and asked, “How old are you?”

“Twelve.”

I stood there and shook my head because I knew the kid was telling the truth.

He then asked, “What would you do if you saw me driving?”

“I’d take your car away and give your dad a ticket.”

The kid give me a funny look at the same time some of the kids started laughing. I then told them a story about a 12 year from a long time ago that I caught driving. The kids were amazed and paid attention while I told it because they were all about the same age as the kid in my story.

At the end of the class I spoke to the teacher again. She told me the unlicensed driver in the front was one of her challenging kids, along with a few others in the class.

Something tells me I might be seeing that kid again. Let’s just hope it’s not on a car stop when he’s 12 years old. If i do,  I’ll  be writing an impound report that night…..

 

 

“Is your license really valid?”

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The other night I decided to watch a stop sign in a neighborhood because of a complaint. I parked at an L shaped intersection in plain view for all to see. I was parked along the curb in the dark when this car passed me on the left as it approached the stop sign. The car rolled through the stop and made its turn like I wasn’t there. I threw my lights on and stopped the car, wondering what the heck the driver was thinking.

I walked up to the car and asked the driver why she didn’t stop for the stop sign and if she saw the police car. At first, the driver told me she stopped. After further questioning and a Jedi Mind Trick, she admitted to not stopping. I next asked her if she had a license.

“Not with me,” she replied.

“Where is it at?”

“It broke in half two days ago.”

That was one of the dumbest excuses I had ever heard. Now I was sure her license was either suspended or she was never issued one.

“Is your license valid?”

“Yes.”

I walked back to my car and entered her name into the computer. I knew it was a waste of time because there was no way her license was valid after the “broke in half” excuse. Call me skeptical, but it was a gut feeling.

Of course, it wasn’t valid. Her license expired in 2009 and she had two prior convictions for driving on a suspended license. Her license wasn’t just barely expired. It was really, really expired.

I couldn’t believe she tried telling me it was valid, but it was a nice try. I went back up to the driver and asked her about her license. She again told me it was valid. When do these people give up?

She next said it was set to be renewed in December of 2015. She was getting nervous at this point and started talking more and more. She then said something about failing the written test.

I asked her how many times she had failed the written test in the last year. She said, “Six times.”

“You know, they don’t make you take the test six times if you already have a valid driver’s license?”

“I have to take the test to renew it.”

That’s when she threw out one more excuse, hoping it would stick on the wall somewhere.

“I have a permit.”

“Ok. Show it to me.”

“It’s in storage,” she said.

“That doesn’t make sense. No one would put their permit in storage when they need it to drive,” I said.

Now she needed a diversion. She raised her voice and told me cops make her nervous because of all the things that happen on the news.

“Have I done anything wrong?” I asked.

“No.”

Good, I wanted that for my body worn camera in case she tried to complain about me. I went back to my car and started writing her the ticket. I also called for a tow truck.

When I went back up to the driver door she was upset. She signed the ticket and asked to keep the car. I told her it was getting impounded because her license expired 6 years ago.

She exited the car and said, “I bet you’d let me keep the car if I was white.”

I almost laughed when I heard that since the driver and I were both Hispanic. I wanted so bad to say, “Nope, I’d take the car if you were white too,” but I held my tongue.

Then with a mean and sarcastic tone she said, “Thank you for protecting and serving,”

“Your welcome,” I replied.

She turned toward me with all the evilness she could muster. She even threw some imaginary darts my way with her eyes. Who cares? She lied and I was just doing my job. She could’ve stopped for the stop sign and made things easier for both of us.

After she left I told the tow truck driver what she said. He laughed as he said, “You take everybody’s car. It doesn’t matter if they’re white, black, Asian or Hispanic. If they’re wrong you take the car.”

At least the tow truck driver knew I was fair!

A few days letter there was a note in my mailbox at work from the driver. She left it after getting a release for the impound. The note said she was sorry for being rude at the end of the stop. It also said she was lagging and she finally got her license back.

She wasn’t such a bad person after all. She was just really mad because her car was impounded and that remark was the best she could come up with. At least she has her license now. I bet she stops the next time she comes up to that stop sign.

It’s not every day you get an apology from someone. I actually appreciated the note because she didn’t have to write it. Just another happy ending in police work.