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I gotta call bullshit on the Garner PD for this. But then I gotta give props. I just gotta do it. So, just the other day there’s some Garner cop sitting out in front of the Aversboro Elementary School and he’s got his radar toy out. Total speed trap. Stopping everything and every one going by at 8:00 AM and writing a bazilion tickets for speeding in a school zone. (Just an FYI here: If you’re not in the state of NC, speeding in a school zone sits right next to DWI and careless and reckless driving in terms of how much it will jack your car insurance so you DEF don’t need one of these on your record.)

 

So I get the bright idea, I’m gonna be a test case for this guy. I saw him sitting there while I was on my way to the office to pick up a file. Now, while I’m driving TO the office, I have to pass by this sign, see? Sign says “school zone. Speed limit 25MPH WHEN FLASHING”. Now when I drive by, the sign is not lit up or flashing or anything and there is ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER SIGN indicating when the school zone hours are in effect. Ok. Adrenaline is going now. I press the gas and bring it up to 35 mph RIGHT IN FRONT of copper dude!

 

Boom! He takes the bait and pulls in behind me with his lights on and squawks his siren/horn thingy to get me to pull over (which I do right away). “Hi officer! How can I help you?”

“Well son”, he says (son? I’m fucking a month away from 50 dude!) “…you were doing 35 and this here’s a school zone. The speed limit is actually 25. I’m gonna have to give you a ticket for that.”

“Oh really?” I say. “Where’s the sign that says that, sir?”

“Well son” (again with the son shit) “there’s a special sign back there” (he motions in the general direction of where the non-operational sign is) …”that gives you drivers notice of the school zone.”

“Oh yeah?” I say. “That’s interesting. Does the sign show the hours when the school zone is in effect because it’s not always in effect, right?”

“Yessir, that’s right. Only during school hours, like now.”

“Oh.” I say. “So it must SAY on the sign when the school zone is in operation, right?”

“Well, yessir. There’s a light on the sign, see, that flashes yellow when the zone is in effect.”

“Hmm. That’s interesting. You see, I drove by that sign twice today and it seems not to be working.”

“Well, no sir, I think it’s working fine, I mean, I saw it just the other day and it was working no problem.”

“No, sorry to disagree officer, but there’s no flashing light today.”

“Hmmm.” He looked puzzled. (In my imagination as I play this scene back I can see him even take off his cop hat and scratch his bald head in thought. Not sure if that really happened, but that’s how I remember it.)

 

A soccer mom pulls up, and saved my ass

Then, like it’s some sort of divine intervention, at that precise moment, I kid you not, some soccer mom comes up in her mini van. She pulls in close:

“Officer! I just want to tell you, I drive this way every day and that flashing light sign back there that says when the school zone speed limit is in effect is not working. Just wanted you to know!” (She pulls off to go to the gym or whatever…)

Cop turns back to me. “Well, I’ll be damed” he mutters. “…I THOUGHT it was working. Hmmm….” (more head scratching here?)

“So, officer? Are you still going to give me a ticket?”

He’s looking back at the sign now. “Wait a minute he says.” He goes back to his car and call someone on his cell phone. Ten minutes later he’s back by my car.

“Aren’t you a lawyer here?” he says.

“Yes, I practice here in Raleigh. I’m sure we’ve met before.”

“Oh” he says.

“So, the ticket?” (He still seems distracted.)

“No no ticket. Just be careful. Looks like you’re right. The sign’s not working right. Something about the solar panel on top makes it not work when the sun’s behind the clouds.”

“So, am I free to go?”

“Oh yeah, go right on. Just drive safe he says.” Right.

 

So here’s the punch line: Next time I see him he’s in court. I’d completely forgotten about the speed trap. It was like a month later. He’s talking to the DA in traffic court about some tickets that he’d issued in front of the school and how they really should be tossed out since the light wasn’t working. Hah! I’ll be damned. Speed trap for the unwary or not, this guy’s legit! Made my day! (And some other folks’ too!)

There might have been a divine hand in this whole deal. If soccer mom hadn’t come by I don’t know what I’d have done (other than go to court and fight a school zone ticket that is).

Here’s my advice: don’t count on a soccer mom saving your ass. Post your case now and get some real legal advice!

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