Monday, December 08, 2008

Sorry Officer. I didn't intend to speed...

I have had some interactions with the US cops. And I just respect them completely! In India, a police-man on the street is someone you want to keep away from. They mean trouble, pain, irritation, and road-blocks for any matter. Although, I have been pulled over many times in India for jumping lights and in rare cases "lane cutting!", I rarely bribed them and took the longer route to get my license back from the Ghatkopar chowki at Eastern Express Highway paying the legitimate fine of Rs 100. But I still find them avoidable.

In the US however, my style of reasoning with the cops has worked so far. Very well.

1) I was driving back during lunch time with a friend Karthik on I-295 at 78mph on a limit of 65mph. A black car behind me (did not look like a cop car) flashed some blue lights at me from inside the windshield. I casually told my friend, "I do not know how some people are allowed to use blue lights for fun". He looked back and screamed, "Dude! its a cop car!!!". That was the first pull-over for me. My friend was a bit concerned that I would jump out of the car and go and try to talk to him the way we do in India. So he started yelling at me what to do. "Pull the car over. Shut off the engine. roll down the windows and DONT MOVE". I did all that.. and the normal proceedings followed. I told the cop, "Sir, I am sorry to speed, but I really did not intend to. I was just getting back to work on time". Whatever I said was true. And I had least expected it to work, but it did! Since I was not speeding too much and was under 15 miles over the speed limit and it was my first time, he gave me a clean chit! I was relieved for not losing $100 on the ticket fine and was so surprised that a cop would just let me go. Because it is my first time!!

2) My second pull-over was funny, it happened in LA as I was nearing the end of my 13-hr long drive from SF to LA. My parents were there with me when I was pulled over. They were totally unsure of what is happening, given that it was LA and 2:00AM in the night. And we were all surprised when the cop said, "You were driving too slow. What's up?" He was checking whether I was drunk. He asked me whether I was sleepy and where I was driving from. He later asked me to "Drive carefully". "Take a break and drink some coffee". My parents were completely bowled over!!! They had never seen this version of a policeman.

3) My third pull-over also happened during my parent's trip. I was driving them back from Shenandoah valley and Luranay caves to Richmond. We took the internal road called US-33 instead of the freeway 64. The speed-limit was 55 and I was suddenly caught by a policeman driving over 60-65 in a 35mph trap. I had not noticed the 35mph board. I was way over speeding. By law. This is what I said to him, "Sir, I am sorry I did not see the 35mph board. Trust me, I had no intention to speed. I am heading back to Richmond and chose to take this road instead of I-64 because I wanted to show my parents the beautiful countryside. And we are really enjoying the drive here. I will drive slowly from here on". Again a perfectly honest and true plea. And he really gave me the benefit of doubt. I wonder if any other Indian policeman would have done that.

4) My friend Sangram and myself were driving back to Richmond from DC in his car. Sangram has an unfortunate track record of getting noticed by the cops. He had "scored" 7 tickets in that calendar year. he suddenly pulled over and asked me to take over the wheel. I did, and was soon pulled over by a cop for over-speeding. Same story again and he let me go! Sangy said, "I am sure if I were driving, I would have got another ticket by now. This is SO not fair". yeah, I think I agree, but hope that US cops give me the benefit of doubt in situations where I am really not excessively speeding.

5) Lake Tahoe. Sangram was also one of the folks in our car. We came out of a restaurant and the cops pulled me over for not putting on the lights. Again, they were just checking whether I was drunk. They let me off. Lucky no 5.

6) Traffic light at Embarcadero and Middlefield intersection Palo Alto. I really do not know what happened after the light went green, but I found myself rear-ending my car to the car in front and he went and hit someone else in front of him. Technically I am at fault. 100%. The lady in the first car was probably too slow to start at the light, but that is no excuse. 100% at fault, I stepped out of the car to check the damage. Fortunately for me there was none, except the screw marks on all the three cars. The person I hit did not want to call the cops. But the grandma whom he hit wanted to play by the book. She called the cops! I thought I was dead. But luck played favorable once more. The cop told the granny, "Do you really want to book him under the offense? Nothing really has happened to your car". He came to me and said, "Nothing in the law could have saved you. She did!"

UPDATE: 3rd March 2010
7) Driving on University Ave towards work. Cops on bike caught me at 40mph on a 25mph limit. It seems I have run out of my luck. For the first time a cop gave me a paper. Either the ticket or the instructions to do the driving school is on the way :(


Blogger Mamata Iyer said...

Boss I don't know y i read this as a part of discussion.

Do u wanna say u r lucky is discussions as well ;-)

On a serious note, Don't make it a habit. The Brits & the US guys trust Indians to honest & disciplined though we aren't. So atleast prove it to them whenever we get a chance.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I dint know you had another incident of being lucky again. :-) This is a classical case of virtuous cycle (with the cops) and meeting nice people on the way. You will continue to be on the virtuous cycle as long as you dont do anything totally exotic (read 'stupid') as driving on 84 on a 65 :) or better still 'passing a cop' :D
I hope you never get a ticket and you can tell these stories (and not with any addition hopefully) to your grandchildren about 50-years-of-driving-without-tickets and still counting (the years and not the tickets I mean:D) :)


4:17 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

ok... I echo Sangy's comment. THIS IS SO NOT FAIR. They leave constant perpetrators like you out but keep booking poor souls like us to make up the budget deficit.
Seriously man.. you are really lucky and hope it continues.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Sanket Malde said...

Haha :)

9:07 PM  
Blogger Sudeep said...

Wow, you have been crazily lucky! :)

11:44 PM  
Blogger Esoterically Yours said...

Dude, u r the cop's man i guess :)

10:55 AM  

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