The title alone will grip most of you, especially those who have braved a trip or two in a car with me. As far back as high school, a friend created a nickname for the handles in the car I drove, as he always felt the need to hold them. Especially when on trips, I find the need to go faster as it cuts down on travel time and allows me to get to the hotel where I can order a pizza quicker!
So, while I am admitting guilt in general, the frustrating thing about this ticket was that I was not guilty on this one occasion. And, unfortunately, I feel like the person giving me the ticket knew I wasn’t speeding. I feel like this was a case of someone knowing that he could get away with giving me a ticket. So, how did I come to this conclusion? Well, here is the rest of the story.
I was traveling to a Bible Quiz event in Athens, Georgia. I had my older two children in the car, and I departed from my home around noon. Because of reasons I cannot pinpoint, I got in the car and started heading to Greenville, SC (most of my quiz trips in the car are headed that way, but it really is an excuse-less crime). I was past Daytona (over an hour drive from the genesis of my trip) before I realized that I had completely dropped the ball.
At this point, I called my wife and asked her to look on the computer and see if it was faster to turn around and drive that extra hour plus or to cut over from I-95 westward sometime later in the journey. Her quick research told me that it was faster to cut over on I-16 and then head up GA-19 to US 441. So, that became our new plan, and my daughter (who was taking a road trip on her birthday—isn’t she a glutton for punishment) would have to wait longer before using her birthday present (a tablet) at a hotel to watch children’s movies.
So, travelling interstates is pretty standard and not worthy of extra care, so I am confident I sped a fair percentage of the time on them, but once I got off of I-16, I had to trek on a two to four lane road with which I was not familiar. Therefore, I was driving extra slowly. Much of the road had a 65 MPH speed limit, which I adapted to by setting cruise control at 69 MPH. (So, I am admitting to speeding a little). There was a sign that said reduce speed ahead and intersection. As soon as I saw that sign, I hit the breaks, not because I am a law abiding citizen, but because I did not want to get lost in a place I did not know, running low on gas, with two pre-pubescent children in the back seat, who are likely to fight if the situation turns negative.
Within a half mile, the speed limit reduced to 55 MPH. I was heading up a hill, so while I do not know precisely how fast I was going at each instant, I am aware that I was gradually slowing down and I know that after the hill was a sign that said 45 MPH. When I passed the sign I looked at the speedometer, which read 43 MPH (don’t you love digital displays?) at the moment I crossed into the slower zone. About a mile ahead was a stop light, next to which was a police officer. As I traveled seven tenths of a mile, I pulled up to the stoplight, where I came to a complete stop and the police office pulled up right behind me.
As I sat there for what seemed like forever (the clock ticked off 4 minutes, and nary a car was anywhere in sight), the light eventually turned green again. I took off, careful not to exceed the 45 MPH. I got about a half mile down the road, when the officer turned on his lights. I knew I had not sped since he was behind me and it had been greater than seven minutes since I had even been speeding the 4 MPH I knew about. So, I am thinking of witty rebuttals and what I should say, and then began freaking out, as I had no idea where the rental paperwork had been put by my wife, when she packed my kids’ things.
Officer Terns Fadley (or something close to that, which I cannot read off the ticket) came up and said “Give me your license.” My first thought was this guy is not a police officer, as I’ve been pulled over before (again, I speed with some frequency) and never had the guy not asked me what I had done or told me what I did. However, with children, I didn’t want to alert him that I would not cooperate. Then, as he left with my license, I began to think that he just wanted to verify that I was a legitimate driver, as I was in the middle of nowhere with Florida plates.
However, fifteen minutes later, I began to wonder what was going on. Some twenty seven minutes later, he came back, took 10 seconds explaining the ticket to me, dropped it off, and went back to his car. Somewhere in that explanation I hear “seventy five.” I look at my ticket and he says I was going 75 in a 55. Now, first, assuming that his radar equipment is able to check for speeds on the other sides of hills, I have no idea how he knows whether I was going that speed in the 55 or 65 MPH zone. Second, why did he sit behind me for four minutes at the light and let me take off before pulling me over? Third, why did he not show or tell me how he got me? Finally, why did he say I was driving 75 MPH, when I never was on that road?
The problems with this are I cannot prove anything (I would love to see the video, as I am quite certain that he did not do what he was supposed to do, even if I had been guilty), I never go through this area (and, after this, I’ll make sure it never happens again) and the cost to go defend it (even if I were guaranteed a win) would probably be greater than paying the stupid ticket. So, why do I even talk about this? Well, first of all, this is the first time in my life where I felt I was targeted. I’ve lived a pretty good life, free of feeling like I was unduly targeted, but honestly, that is my feeling in this. As I have sat on this for three weeks, I have only become more convinced of this fact.
This one time of small persecution is not even worthy to be compared with what many others have suffered, but I now feel that I have a greater appreciation with those who have suffered at the hands of institutional targeting, persecution, or harassment. Maybe that is the lesson that I need to learn from this, though I am sure God also wants me to slow down regularly.