Monday, June 7, 2010

My first time - no handcuffs required!

After 35 years of leading a crime-free existence, I am tarnished. Forever shamed.

My weekend unfolded normally, with me pestering a cop into providing a tour of the Newberg, Oregon police station.

Behold, the drunk tank at the Newberg, OR police station.

It was research for the third book in my contract, and it was a lot of fun.

Well, except the part where I asked the cop if I needed to be handcuffed to see the holding cells, and he stared like I was some sort of sexual deviant (at which point I reminded him I’m a romance author, which totally excused the sexual deviancy).

Little did I know, my tour of the slammer was a hint of what was to come.

I’ve been operating an automobile for nearly 20 years, and would say I’m a slightly below average driver. In spite of this, my only prior brush with the law occurred in Montana right after they repealed the speed limit. Apparently, the cops were bored.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” the Montana cop asked.

I considered the question. “Was it the body in my trunk?”

He didn’t smile. “Your rear license plate isn’t attached correctly. It’s supposed to be attached on all four corners, and yours is only attached on three. Also, you have to use wing nuts to attach the plate, and you’ve used wire.”

“Wing nuts?”

“That’s correct.”

I frowned. “I was going 80 miles an hour. How can you see my wing nuts?”

He ignored the question. “I’m going to let you off with a warning, but in the future, be more cautious.”

And I was cautious – for the next 10 years, I made sure my license plate was properly attached.

Speeding is another matter, which is how I found myself exceeding the limit as I drove home from an RWA meeting on Saturday.

When I saw a car pulled off the road and a man kneeling in the dirt with a gun aimed at me, my first instinct was to duck.

It should have been to slow down. It was a radar gun, and I was busted. Unlike the Montana situation, I knew I’d done something wrong.

In my mind, I had played out this scene a million times. I would cry. I would beg. I would smile so sweetly the officer would shake my hand and thank me for making his day.

That’s not how it happened.

I managed to roll down the window. That’s as far as I got.

“Do you know how fast you were going?” he asked.

I shook my head mutely, fumbling for my driver’s license.

“You were going 70 in a 55, plus there’s a construction zone on the other side of the highway.”

I still couldn’t seem to find any words, so I widened my eyes with what I hoped was surprised remorse, but probably looked more like I was choking.

The cop gave me an odd look. “Let me have your license and proof of insurance.”

I handed them over without a word, and he studied them for a moment. “Don’t go anywhere, OK?”

I shook my head, solidifying his suspicion that he’d just pulled over a woman born without a tongue.

The cop retreated to his car, which gave me a few moments to contemplate whether I should work up some tears, remove my shirt, or attempt both.

Instead, I just sat there. It was like that dream where you want to speak or run away, but your foot is stuck in a barrel of melted saltwater taffy and the purple troll is pinching your lips together with asparagus tongs. You know that dream?

Eventually, the cop returned. “Because of your exemplary driving record,” he said, “I’m not indicating this is a construction zone. That reduces your fine by $100. The instructions are on the ticket. Have a nice day.”

He stared at me for a few beats, providing me one last opportunity to prove I wasn’t mute. I nodded and made a noise somewhere between a squeak and a belch.

The cop walked away, shaking his head.

So that’s the story of my first speeding ticket. Not really how I imagined it, and also not how I’d planned to spend $190. Chalk it up as one of those unplanned costs of writing.

What’s your story? Do you have an interesting tale of your first brush with the law, or are you still untarnished? Share in the comments. I’ll be over here practicing my speech for the next time I get pulled over.

“Wow, officer – I really like your pants.”
Me with my very first speeding ticket. Oh, the shame.

30 comments :

Cynthia Reese said...

Am not telling any stories about prior speeding tickets or gloating about my near misses, because I so do not need a speeding ticket, and that's what would happen if I did.

Also, you'd better be glad you weren't in GA. Speeding 15 miles an hour above the speed limit in a construction zone is rumored to be an automatic thousand dollar fine that no judge will let you off of.

averyoslo said...

Do I ever!

I once sneezed while driving down a straight stretch of road at night. There was the HUGEST BOOGER EVER stuck to the side of my face, and since no one was behind or in front of me, I swerved a little while trying to reach a pile of napkins on the floor of the passenger seat.

Blue light.

Crap!

The officer asks me if I've been drinking.

Instead of acting like a civilized person, I hold up my snotty tissue and begin rambling like a mad person that I just couldn't drive with a booger stuck to the side of my face. Then I handed him the tissue, as if it were the evidence needed to exonerate me.

Lucky for me, the cop pulled his head back, did a gut-laugh, then pounded the roof of my car with his hand and wished me a Merry Christmas.

I'd kill to hear what he radio'd in to his colleagues that night.

Linda G. said...

I had that dream once. Swore off Boone's Farm wine for good after that. ;)

My one and only speeding ticket (thus far) was when I was in college, for going 35 in a school zone. In my defense, I thought it was a school holiday. So I decided to fight it. Wore a demure little pink dress to court, widened my eyes at the fatherly judge, swore I would've never knowingly broken the law (why, yes, my fingers were crossed--why do you ask?), and got out of it.

Somehow I don't think that ploy would work for me now. Unless the judge were 85 or so...

CKHB said...

No driver's license = no driving violations!

Stanley Dankoski said...

I have been pulled over for speeding countless times, and I have never received a speeding ticket that long. He must really like you.

Great post!

Cate Kariaxi said...

You are lucky. :)

The last ticket I got (he warned me on the speeding, gave me a ticket for not being buckled up), I sat there fighting tears. I was afraid to say anything, because I'm sure my voice would have been quivering. <- And I'm not an emotional person in general. There just is something about seeing those flashing lights in your rearview mirror and knowing they're after you that is emotionally wrecking for me. :)

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

I'm afraid I'm boring. The only speeding ticket I ever got was back in high school. Which I find completely amazing, considering what a lead foot I have! Just lucky, I guess. ;)

Debra L. Schubert said...

I definitely would have taken my shirt off.

Robin said...

I've been pulled over a couple of times. First time, like you, I was just too horrified to do anything. Second time, I cried. I got the warning. Fortunately, I really was very upset and the tears were real. I didn't plan it or anything. Just burst out crying. Third time, well same thing, but that was in Fernandina Beach, FL, and the cop was a real dirtbag. Unfazed by tears. I got the ticket. This sounds like I am a read driving risk. That first ticket was waived at the hearing. The second was a warning. And the third I paid a fine, but the judge gave me no points against my license. He didn't like the cop either. Actually, I didn't deserve the ticket. But he couldn't call the cop a liar to his face, so there you go. And that is Fernandina Beach. If you ever go, drive with caution. It is a speed trap and the police are looking to fine you for *anything.* Just trying to keep you out of the pokey ~ sounds like you're a magnet for trouble...

Harley May said...

I'm sorry you got a speeding ticket. Why didn't you think to flash some cleavage? Boobage cures just about everything. I've never had a speeding ticket. I drive like a grandmother. I recently got a ticket b/c my oldest unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned over the back seat of the van with a police car behind us. That was fun.

Simon C. Larter said...

You don't really want to know about my run-ins with the law and why I know what the inside of a jail cell looks like, do you? Nah.

Let's chalk it up to doing research for future novels, shall we? Yes, let's.

P.S. Apparently they're issuing tickets that look like receipts from Circuit City in your neck of the woods. Huh.

Candyland said...

Sounds like we had the same dream! Geesh-$190 for an effing ticket? And wing nuts? There's too much silliness to mention in this post...I need a drink.

Morgan Ives said...

I always miss stop signs. Don't ask me why. I've been pulled over for speeding once, for blowing through stop signs four times.

But my stories about getting pulled over aren't nearly as funny as my friend's, so I'll tell hers instead! Besides, it involves her taking off her shirt :)

My friend was driving through the Texas panhandle, 18 hours into a 22 hour drive, trying to get it over with. It was mid-August and, even at 4 AM, sweltering.

The heat was putting her to sleep. The road was deserted. So she figured, why not? And took off her shirt.

But she was still falling asleep. So she pulled out a cigar, lit it, and started making Groucho Marx faces in the rear-view mirror to keep herself awake.

Which is why she didn't see the cop as she flew past at over 100 mph. She did see the flashing lights rather quickly, though.

She panicked and tried to pull her shirt on (it was a button down) over her seat belt. It made it as far as her shoulders, then stuck there.

When the cop got to the window, he saw a red-faced lady in her bra, her arms hiked up in shirt sleeves, a half-smoked cigar in her hand. He could barely keep a straight face as she strained to roll down the window, and gave up trying not to laugh halfway through her explanation.

He wrote the ticket for 10 mph over the limit, as long as she promised to stop in the next town and get a hotel room. And he followed her to the exit to make sure she did.

Xuxana said...

We have speed cameras here in the UK. Knew I'd zoomed past one at 45 MPH in a 30 MPH zone when I saw the flash.

Sure enough, got a £60 fine in the post for speeding two weeks later.

If you saw all the road warning signs that are splayed out before the actual speed camera, you'd wonder how I managed to miss the thing in the first place.

Well, I was a new driver to the wrong side of the road, okay?

Terry Stonecrop said...

You'll get used to it. I've been stopped numerous times. I worked for a while in reporting, where I had to speed a lot. I got a nice state cop to give me an escort once, flashing lights and sirens and all. Cool.

Other than that, when I get pulled over, I flirt. But I tend to be a natural born flirt. Of all the times I've been stopped, I got only one ticket.

Tips I learned from cop friends I met while reporting: If you're stopped by a cop, be very respectful. Yes officer, no, officer, but mostly, yes, officer. And never argue. Just, "Oh darn, was I?" If you're playing loud, fast music, turn it off before he gets to the car. And smile sweetly.

In other words, next time, flirt!

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Aww, tickets suck! Getting pulled over is scary and no fun whatsoever.

Here's what happened the last three times I was pulled over, most recent first:

- I made a left turn from a left turn lane, but in order to get into it I had to get in once the line had already turned solid white. Cop told me he would do me a favor and not write me up for that, and instead write me up for impeding the flow of traffic (which I had not done at all - my best friend was in the car behind me and could vouch for it). Turns out, crossing the solid white line is only discouraged, according to the online traffic school class I took. Impeding the flow of traffic? 1 point on my license and a $231 fine. Then I didn't get the notice of when the court date was until the day after. So I missed my chance to fight it. Distinctly unfair "favor," I'd say.

- I was pulled over b/c my sticker was out of date on my license plate, but apparently they thought I looked crazy suspicious b/c I was digging in my purse for my wallet (where my ID lives) when they walked up to my car. I was told to never ever do that because they assumed I was pulling a gun, so they pulled theirs on me. Very scary, for the record. They let me go when they saw that my registration was fine, though. Just a warning to look less suspicious and to buy a replacement sticker.

- Cop lied and said I was doing 50 in a 35 (which I KNOW wasn't true b/c I was in an accident three days earlier and was driving like a paranoid person - I'd checked the speedometer 15 times in a two-mile stretch). He held his gun on me when I handed him my ID and he caught sight of my old ID, which the DMV had holepunched and returned to me, in my wallet. He assumed I was driving around with fake ID, and that the vehicle was most likely stolen. He was scary and mean, and lied to the judge when I fought it in court about all the pedestrians I had been endangering with my reckless driving. Non-existent pedestrians, by the way, that he claimed were a result of the high foot traffic that the nearby 7-11 generates. You know, the hundreds of people who walk to 7-11 after 10:30 pm on a Thursday night in an industrial area with no sidewalks. Worst part? I really had to use the restroom and was having a hard time sitting still (figured he'd think I was on something, but luckily he didn't) and prior to the lights going off behind me, I was congratulating myself for not giving in to temptation to speed home like I really wanted to do. The judge was nice, though, and said she had to take the officer's word, but she reduced the fine down to $100 (from $250).

All of these happened in the last six months, by the way. I am kind of terrified of driving now. Cops lie and intimidate with guns A LOT more than I ever thought they did.

Tawna Fenske said...

Cynthia, in my defense, it was a Saturday, so no construction was taking place. Plus the construction zone was on the opposite side of the highway with a giant median between us - a good 100-150 yards away!

Patty, OMG, that would have totally freaked me out. So did you actually hit the cop with your car?

averyoslo, that is without a doubt the funniest thing I've read all day! Still laughing.

Linda G, you lost me at the image of you in a demure pink dress. Snort!

CKHB, that's one way to deal with it, eh?!

Stanley, since I've never gotten a ticket before, I have no idea if they always look like that or if it's a new thing. I assume the cops all have some sort of receipt printer in their cars now so they don't have to hand-write everything, but it's a little weird, isn't it?

Cate, you know, I almost would have preferred it if I could have worked up some tears. He might've taken pity on me then, instead of just thinking I was a moron.

Elizabeth, no kidding, I've always been surprised that I haven't had at least a dozen tickets by now. I figured it was only a matter of time.

Debra, I will confess, I did have the wherewithall to lean forward a little bit while digging through my purse for my license. It's possible the cleavage shot (and not my impressive driving record) is what got him to waive the construction zone thing.

Robin, dang, remind me never to drive in Fernandina Beach!

Harley May, that sucks! I hope your wee one got a talking to?

Simon, it's nice how seriously you take your book research. Want to do some for me?

Candyland, is that high? I have no idea. My husband 9(who's gotten a few tickets in his lifetime) seemed to think it was about normal, but I wasn't sure.

Morgan, that is HYSTERICAL! I'll bet your friend has a good time telling that one at cocktail parties.

Xuxana, oh the other-side-of-the-road driving would kill me! When we were in Australia a few years ago, I made Pythagoras do all the driving. I'd kill someone, I have no doubt.

Terry, I always thought flirting would be the key, but when push came to shove, I could barely remember my own name. Guess I'll have to practice!

Elizabeth, holy crap! Rough six months, eh?!

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Jeannie said...

I know I will jinx myself, but I've never gotten a speeding ticket or a ticket for any moving violation. I have gotten pulled over a number of times.

Once, I was in college, and my little Camaro and I were going 60 in a 45. Got out of it by bursting into tears, telling the officer how I lost my shoes and I was late for an exam. He was so frazzled by my tears, and I talked so fast, he let me go. I'm surprised he couldn't see my nose grow.

The next two times I was in grad school (I guess I was 22/23) and I was pulled over by two separate cops, at two different times, who didn't have any reason to pull me over, but both asked me out. It was flattering, and a little weird.

I went out with one, but not the other since I was already dating cop 1 by the time cop 2 pulled me over. Cop 1 thought cop 2 was very unethical pulling the stunt, BTW. I ended up breaking up with Cop 1 because while he was cute,(okay he was HOT) he was a giant tool.

Finally, I was pulled over a couple of months ago and got out of it by being honest. "Ma'am do you know how fast you were going?" "Uh, about 68 officer?" "The speed limit is 55." "Yes sir, I know. I apologize for being so careless."

He was stunned and after checking my paperwork, he let me off with a warning.
:-)

Elisabeth Black said...

"It was like that dream where you want to speak or run away, but your foot is stuck in a barrel of melted saltwater taffy and the purple troll is pinching your lips together with asparagus tongs. You know that dream?"

You are brilliant.

Jan Markley said...

sounds like that first cop was a wing nut!

Jamie D. said...

LOL - I've lived in MT all my life, never had a car with all the bolts in the back plate, and never *once* had a cop try to ticket me for it! I've never seen wing nuts on a plate anyways - dude was messing with you, for sure! ;-)

My only ticket was for a stupid accident I got in when I was in high school, trying to cross a busy intersection where there was lots of road construction. I ran a red light right in front of a cop the day I got my first car, but I was mortified, and he let me off with a warning.

I got a tour of our local detention center when I was setting up their web site so I could take pictures. I was overdressed, and it was a freaky-weird yet highly interesting experience.

Janelle said...

No comment.

At least none that I will post here... Now, give me a little (okay, a lot of) #oregonresearch, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get a little (okay, a lot) more out of me!! ;o)

Claire Dawn said...

I got my first ticket for parking in a no parking zone. It was ironic that I was driving my dad's car, and he's an army officer and I parked right behind an army vehicle, waved at the guys in the army vehicle, who knew me, and got out. I hadn't taken too steps before the cop had me ticketed. I was like, "but they're in the no parking zone too!"

Afterwards, I started parking in the fire station yard, which is also restricted, but not when you have an fireman ex-boyfriend :)

Mother Hen said...

My husband who is a Brit, and I where driving in CT early in our marriage while on holiday. He insisted on driving because he thought it was cool to drive in America, wrong side of car and road and all that. We drive fast in England and he was driving fast when he got pulled over. He also nearly got killed. He pulled over and GOT OUT OF THE CAR before I could tell him not to. It never occurred to me to tell him to just sit quietly and wait for the officer. Officer pulled his gun out and shouted at my husband to put his hands on the roof. I freaked and kept shouting, "He's English, he's English!" Now I drive when we go back to America.

danicaavet said...

I'm really late in getting this, but I have to add my story.

I was 19 driving my brother and myself home from a band concert. I was a band nerd, okay? So it's late, I'm on this long stretch of abandoned road. Speed limit was 55 and I was going 61. In the distance, I see flashing lights and knew I was busted. The cop pulled me over and demanded my license and registration. I started crying and trying to find both. I'd just cleaned out my car the day before and neither of them were where they were supposed to be.

After about 10 minutes of me fumbling and crying all over the place, I handed the stupid things over and he sighed.

"Do you work?"

"Yes"

"Where?"

"Kitchen help at blah-blah"

Another sigh. "I don't suppose you can afford a ticket, can you?"

*sniff, gurgle* "No"

"Okay, I'm letting you off with a warning. Don't speed again."

*more tears* "Okay"

Yeah, I totally broke down. The second, third and fourth times I've been stopped I couldn't manufactor a tear if my life depended on it.

Tawna Fenske said...

Jeannie, I can't believe you've been pulled over so many times and never got a ticket! I need to be taking lessons from you.

Elisabeth, brilliant? I'm touched. Oh, wait - was that sarcasm? :)

Jan, definitely a wing nut, but also pretty bored. When they did away with the speed limit, the cops suddenly had to make up reasons to stop people.

Jamie D, all I can figure is that when the cops suddenly didn't have speed as an excuse to pull people over, they had to invent other reasons. I drove a crappy car, so maybe he thought I was suspicious enough to pull over and the license plate was an afterthought? Dunno.

Janelle, I should be taking you along on my #oregonresearch trips!

Claire Dawn, so what you're saying is that I need to ditch Pythagoras and start sleeping with cops? I'm gonna have to think about that one.

Mother Hen, I'm totally cracking up at the idea of you shouting "He's English! He's English!" at the cop. Priceless!

danicaavet, I'm sensing that I need to work on the forced tears a bit. Clearly a little sympathy would have served me well. Maybe we should be carrying onions in our cars?

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Rhonda said...

LMAO!! These are all too funny!

I've never gotten a ticket *knocks furiously on wood* and I've only been pulled over once - and that was for a crack that the hubs had accidentally put in my windshield.

Did I mention the knocking on wood?

Kelly Breakey said...

It's a sad story, my first moving violation.

I was stationed in Alaska on an island where our police force was made up of bearded mountain men. I was pulled over for doing 23 mph in a 15 mph zone. My car could only do 15 if I pushed it. (No I am not kidding) I got a stern talking to and a $25.00 fine which I could waive if I purchased tickets to the seafood banquet at the Contractors Camp. He seriously recommended I do that. (You can't make this stuff up.) I rolled my car away after signing a promissory note for two tickets that totaled $35.00, and was happy to do it. To this day I am still afraid of burly, bearded mountain men.

Posey said...

If your friends jumped off a building, would you do that too? Yes, yes I would and I did. There was this road that went right by my old elementary school. It was between my house and town. I had a friend's sister who drove like a mad woman when she drove that road. It is a straight-a-way, never any traffic, the perfect road to speed on.

See, I was a good girl. I never did anything, and when I say anything, I really mean it. So you can imagine how this went for me. There I was on that road with a speed limit of 45 and I said, "What the heck, why not?" Heart racing, the fear of getting caught easing up, the freedom of being so bad. *snort* I could feel myself getting excited that for once I did something really, really bad, and just as I almost hit 83... I passed a cop.

He said he clocked me twice because he couldn't believe how fast I was going. I was crying and blabbering so badly that he gave me the ticket at the 7-something speed I was going after I saw him.

Worse, my friend's sister continued to speed just like that and NEVER got caught.

Tawna Fenske said...

Rhonda, don't hurt your knuckles with all that wood-knocking! Er, wait, that's not what I meant...

Kelly, holy crap, that is a seriously twisted story!

Posey, 83 in a 45? Yeah, you probably deserved that ticket :)

Tawna