Who needs a license?

FullSizeRender(9)

With shoulders slumped, the driver looked dejectedly at his crashed car with its crumpled metal and fluid spilling out onto the street like blood draining from a body.

The driver, who was about 18 years old, had a look of disbelief as the flashing police and fire lights bounced off our faces.

During the interview I asked, “Do you have a license?”

He replied, “No,” as his permit shook in his hand.

This was my fourth crash of the night and my second with an at fault unlicensed driver. Driver’s licenses and rules don’t mean anything anymore to some people.

Being responsible doesn’t seem to matter anymore either, regardless of how many people are killed or injured in crashes when an unlicensed person gets behind the wheel. I guess having a driver’s license is just a suggestion.

I asked, “Do you know you’re not supposed to drive?”

In a low voice the driver said, “I was going to the DMV next week.”

Well, that doesn’t help the mother and child who were transported to the hospital. That also doesn’t help all the copss at the scene who were tied up with traffic control, or the paramedics, ER staff and ambulance drivers, who treated these victims.

“I woulda, coulda, shoulda” doesn’t help anyone when an unlicensed driver sends you to the hospital.

Be careful out there. The guy next to you might be suspended or unlicensed and they’ll take you out.

Read the DMV book

FullSizeRender(9)

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.

A dumb excuse

FullSizeRender(9)

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. 

 

That’s just weird

clown
The other night, a gang unit came on the radio saying they were trying to stop a person on a bike who was trying to get away from them. I was close by and got there a moment after the suspect was caught.

When I arrived, the helicopter directed me into the alley where the officers were. I saw a Honda stopped facing eastbound and a police car behind it. There was also a BMX bicycle on its side.

One of the gang cops pointed to the Honda and told me the suspect broke off its passenger side mirror when he hit the car. After the collision, the suspect left the bike and fled on foot. That’s when they caught him.

The bicycle rider was the hit and run suspect? That’s a new one.

The victim was standing next to his car and I went to get his information for the report. Instead of a driver’s license, I got a blank look because he didn’t have one.

This call was already weird enough with the hit and run suspect being a guy on a bike. You might as well throw in another guy with no license to make it interesting. Maybe a circus was in town and we could have clowns too.

After I was done with the driver, I wrote down the suspect’s information. A record check showed he had a valid driver’s license.

What?

So, let me get this straight. The hit and run dude on a bike had a driver’s license, but the guy driving the car didn’t????

Weird, right?

Weird is actually pretty normal for me at work. I wouldn’t expect anything else.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

When the rules don’t apply to some people

FullSizeRender(9)

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.

 

“Is your license really valid?”

code-3

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.