Thursday, July 22, 2010

Smitty Don't Play Dat...

One sure-fire way to get a ticket from me is to play me for an idiot.

Drivers who try to concoct some bullshit story on the fly, or try to convince me that I didn't really see what I just saw are only begging me to write them a ticket. They must think by telling me I'm wrong I'm somehow obligated to take their word for it and cut 'em loose.

Yeah, not so much.

Recently, I was in the midst of one my normal exercises in futility (I was sitting at one of my newer duck ponds looking for violations) when my attention was drawn to a driver who was talking on her cell phone while it was obviously not being used in a hands free mode. As this driver approached within about 30 feet of me, she suddenly noticed lil' ole me.

One common reaction to the sudden sighting of a police officer by someone who knows they are in violation of the law is to startle and jump involuntarily.

This is precisely what my driver did, then she slid her hand (still holding the aforementioned celly) down her shoulder while trying to not look like she was hiding a cell phone. And failing. Miserably.

So of course, I set off to discuss the nuances of the California vehicle code with her.

Upon stopping the car and contacting the driver the conversation went something along these lines:

Smith: Hi there. I stopped you because you had your phone up to your ear while you were driving. Is there anything you need police, fire or ambulance assistance with?

Driver: No. I wasn't talking on the phone. I NEVER talk on the phone when I'm driving.

Smith: Well, then perhaps you wouldn't mind educating me as to what the shiny metallic red object was you were holding up to your ear while you drove.

Driver: I was playing with my hair.

Smith: Forgive me for noticing, but your hair is neither red nor metallic, and honestly looks nothing like a cell phone. How about I take a look at your license please?

Driver: (rummaging around in her purse) here you go.

Imagine the shocked look that flashed across both our faces when her drivers seat started ringing. After the second ring my driver moved her purse to her left knee (closer to where the ringing was) and returned to rummaging. She then moved her purse and reached down to pick up her cell phone off the floor.

Driver: Oh, I guess it fell out of my purse.

Smith: (somewhat amused by the attempted sleight of hand) Well, a magician you're not. That, however, appears to be a red metallic Motorola Razr you're now holding. I feel like I've seen it somewhere before.

Driver: What? Why?

Smith: Never mind. (if I have to explain that one you need more help than I can give)

Driver: What can I do to prove to you that I wasn't on the phone?

Smith: Not much because I know what I saw, but... I suppose there won't be any calls on your call history?

Driver: I don't think so (opening the call history on the phone).

The driver pulled up the call history and started to show it to me, then changed her mind when we both noticed an incoming call four minutes earlier and an outgoing call one minute before that.

Go figure.

Play me for a fool and I'm more than happy to scratch you out a citation...


Ann T. said...

Dear Officer Smith,
Ha ha! The title of this post ought to be a song.

Who dat? What dat? Oh, dat? Nothin, honest.

Have a great weekend! I had to laugh.

Ann T.

911 and the Randomness.. said...

Nice job! and thanks for the laugh!

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

Would you have given the ticket if the call history had been clear?

*Goddess* said...

Ok, I have to ask....why do you call your favorite spots to locate traffic violators "duck ponds"?

Jay said...

Very nice OS. People like her must think you put your lights on because you like the pretty colours. (Could you say she had been caught red handed?)

Shalom said...

You ever hear the expression "like a kitten trying to cover up on a tile floor"? I think that describes this little interaction rather aptly.

suz said...

Golly, Officer, are you sure?

I'm really not that old, but I'm puzzled by so many young(er) people who expect everyone to fall for the play-dumb/deny act. Look right at you and say, "Wasn't me. Couldn't be." I wonder how many people believed them in the past, teaching them that this strategy works! Maybe the smart ones do it because they know it pisses off responsible people.

Officer "Smith" said...


I would and I have. People are quite adept at clearing call history. Not to mention the fact that the law prohibits "use of" a phone... not "talking on" a phone.

She could be using the phone to scratch her ear for all I know, but if it ain't hands free she gets the ticket.

It all goes back to the fact that I'm lied to so often I just have to assume most people are lying. Because most people are.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

I would and I have. People are quite adept at clearing call history.

This part seems a bit far fetched to me. Maybe your observations are just wrong sometimes.

Not to mention the fact that the law prohibits "use of" a phone... not "talking on" a phone.

This is flat out wrong.

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using
an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read
a text-based communication.
(b) As used in this section "write, send, or read a text-based
communication" means using an electronic wireless communications
device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based
communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred
to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to
be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the
person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an
electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making
or receiving a telephone call.

Officer "Smith" said...


Once again you show your lack of reading skill by posting the WRONG SECTION. You posted 23123.5 VC, the TEXTING section.

Now let's look at the Vehicle Code section that applies in this case, to whit 23123(a) VC...

23123. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.

Emphasis mine...

Now who is "flat out wrong"?

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

are still wrong. Using a telephone under that section requires listening and/or talking. If one is merely holding the telephone, then one is not listening and/or talking, and therefore one is not violating the statute.

If you don't believe me:

next time you go to court on one of these tickets say that you have no idea whether the person was listening or talking, or, alternatively, whether they were merely holding the telephone. tell the judge it does not matter whether the person was engaging in a telephone call r not. then see what happens.

Bottom line: yes, you were flat out wrong about merely holding the phone.

Ann T. said...

Go, Officer Smith. Let's all get it right the first time, as somehow you are required to do 24/7.

I remain impressed.

Officer "Smith" said...


Read it again, and pay attention to the words this time instead of what you'd like to believe.

It is my job to know the laws I issue citations for.

You sound just like the drivers I cite, telling me what I can and can't, or should and shouldn't do, and telling me their interpretation of the law.

My tickets hold up in court. How about you drive through Smithville (if you can figure out where it is) with your phone up against the side of your face, not talking on it of course, and let me see you doing it. I'll be happy to write you the ticket and you can try your "I wasn't talking" defense in court and see how it works.

It's the same line they all use.

The key is "using a wireless telephone". The phone must be configured for hands free talking and listening and used in that manner while driving. If you're scratching your ass with your phone, it is being used to scratch your ass, but it is not being used for hands free talking and listening.

Figure it out. You're not going to be right on this one.

Don't be too upset though. You're not the first person to argue this with me and lose.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

My tickets hold up in court.

Sure, because you aren't as honest in court as you are here. Just holding a telephone is not using it. Your interpretation of the law is silly.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

Go, Officer Smith. Let's all get it right the first time, as somehow you are required to do 24/7.

This suggests a good question that I don't know the answer to. If a police officer (presumably not Officer Smith writes down, or otherwise indicates, an incorrect statutory section on a traffic ticket, then does that mean the ticket is automatically dismissed?

I am not sure that police officers really do need to get it correct the first time, but I am sure that there are some motorists out there who would like to know.

Officer "Smith" said...


You just don't fucking give up do you.

Your insinuation that I am dishonest in court is bullshit. I tell it EXACTLY as I see it. Our traffic commissioner has found people guilty for checking the time on their phone. Why? BECAUSE IT IS A USE OF THE PHONE!

It's not my "interpretation" of the law. It is simply the way it reads.

You obviously have not taken my suggestion to go back and read it again.

As for writing the wrong violation on the ticket, that's why we have cite corrections. Because we're human too.

Now, you, mein freund, are about to go the way of the last prick who thought it amusing to beat dead horses on my blog...

Allen Ridgewood said...

This Tzia person needs to fill out an application to be a police officer. He seems to already have the law part down. (I am saying all that very sarcastically of course)

Maybe if he did go to an academy he would learn that officers don't get to have an interpretation of a law.

Anonymous said...

Cleanvillians be gone! I completely enjoyed this humorous, that is LMAO, description of a day at the office! Bravo Officer Smith...

Thank you.