Saturday, November 3, 2007

how to avoid a speeding ticket

In my never-ending quest to remain uninformed concerning the news of the day, I was on ESPN’s site, looking at the NASCAR page to find race times, when I noticed what appeared to be a puke-orange Lamborghini in the bottom right. It sat above a text box that encased a few hyperlinks, the first of which read, “Ten ways to avoid a speeding ticket.” I never click on such links. My mind always drifts to the law days …

Pennsylvania. Only the State Police have the right to use RADAR, and locals must be formally granted the right by the State Police. Don’t hold your breath – hasn’t happened yet. So the locals use primarily VASCAR – push the button twice, machine computes speed based upon time to travel between two known points. (I hate VASCAR - my reaction time is about 0.250 seconds. If you compute a reasonable margin of error into the VASCAR calc, the resulting speeds are all over the map.)

RADAR and VASCAR both have recent calibration issues – R within 30 days, V has some time (forget, but uses two sunk pieces of metal in a road to start and stop). Both have a training requirement. You should always confirm the cop’s jurisdiction for the time and place of the observation. The list can go on – the real issue, however, is that the arresting officer has to testify truthfully, even if such testimony would mean the ticket is thrown out – and they all know the rules and the required words. (Did you ever hear a cop testify that he smelled “alcohol upon his breath and person”? Straight from the statute.) Do cops lie when they testify? About small stuff for which they believe that they cannot get nailed? Yes, of course, we all do. It is job preservation. About big stuff that ipso facto establishes guilt for a misdemeanor or felony? Only the assholes – and they are out there, but do not rule the day. Remember, a larger crime is prosecuted formally, the paperwork in guilty pleas sits in the DA’s office. Busting your sorry ass even though you are innocent is just not worth a cop’s career and pension – and those cops stupid enough to do it anyway get flushed out of the system after a while. Few bad cops make it to retirement, just like that saying, “there are old pilots, there are bold pilots, but few and old and bold pilots.”

Through all of my years of driving and then practicing law, I have, my faithful, determined the number one manner in which to avoid a speeding ticket. It is simple and elegant in its solution. It works in virtually every situation, and reflects the very best balance of risk and reward. It is, “do not speed.”

Sound too good to be true? Let’s look at it.

I was driving on a two-lane, double-yellow road a couple, two, three weeks ago. I was doing the speed limit, whatever it was – 45, 55. It was a rural highway. A guy had been behind me through some turns. He wasn’t riding my ass (that is a very dangerous thing to do – rage issue with me – I will endanger lives and property to make my point in such instances). The straight road opens and he zooms past me – turn signal used, cranking perhaps 70-75, and completely illegal.

Risk: Speeding greater than 20 MPH over speed limit. Passing outside an authorized zone. And end there – even though Careless Driving is possible to add. Let’s assume the ticket is a handful of points (around 4 – and in PA you get 6 before yanked) and $200. Honestly, I think the dollars are low.

Reward: The dude turned into some retail store parking lot up the road maybe half a mile from where he passed me. I counted time from the moment he pulled into the lot to the moment I passed the entry point: 4 seconds.

He risked $200 and gained 4 seconds. That is the equivalent of an hourly wage of $180,000. An hour. That’s $374.4 million a year. Wow. Of course, if he got nailed, he also risked those four seconds gained turning into 15 or 20 minutes lost.

Set aside money, and just look at time gained by speeding. Assume the speed limit is 65, you do 80, and the trip is 20 miles long. At 65, the trip would take 18.47 minutes; at 80, 15.04 minutes. These calcs ignore the effect of average speed, so let’s factor that in.

Assume that during 8 miles of the trip you have some traffic lights, getting up to speed, some clown in front of you preventing you from passing, some fricking disabled person crossing the street like molasses in a Vermont January (HONK! HONK!! “Move it, ya freak, can’t you see I’m in a hurry here?!?). You average 25 MPH during these stretches.

Time elapsed for 8 miles at 25 MPH and 12 miles at 65 MPH: 14.41 minutes
Time elapsed for 8 miles at 25 MPH and 12 miles at 80 MPH: 12.35 minutes

Reward, two minutes; risk, $200. You do the math.

Of course, all of this ignores reduced reaction time to unforeseen events, such as truly stupid people who do not know how to expertly maneuver a car like you in hyper-attentive situations, wild animals crossing the road, blown tires, and the occasional need to drive with your knees because the urge to masturbate becomes too great for you to ignore any longer.

If the risk/reward analysis needs further support, try this: tell me, precisely, with a straight face and open mind, just what the hell are you going to do with those 120 seconds that is so fucking important that you would increase the risk of my time on the roadway as you zoom past me? To put a point on it: WTF, A-hole?

I do smile, however, knowing that routinely driving at such speeds increases exponentially the likelihood of your traumatic death in the near-term or your shortened lifespan from various heart and circulatory issues in the long-term.

How to beat a speeding ticket: Don’t speed.

This concludes my public service announcement. I have to get a copy of this to my parole officer and see if it satisfies the requirement of the court (it’s something akin to when actors do PSAs such as, “Drugs are, um, bad for you. Don’t smoke crack. Keep it in powder form, mix it with a little speed, bang it … mmm! Oh, OK, take two, then, OK? Oh, we're up to take 97? That's pretty funny! You got film, right? Do you mind if I go use the restroom? I gotta, um, powder my nose.”). I got, like, EIGHT tickets since January. I am so screwed. This’ll work, though. Courts are stupid. I’ll just cut off the last part on the copy I give to them.

In a hurry – gotta go. You know, I still crack up at the look on the lady’s face when she had to literally pick up and swing her stroller out of the way of my oncoming car. Man, I bet there was more than one poopy butt to clean that day! Good thing I am such an excellent driver. Where did all of these pedestrians come from anyway? Ain’t nobody got a car anymore? Don’t people know roads are for us, and sidewalks are for them? It's like a rule, ain't it? Shouldn’t they stop giving out driver’s licenses as a gift when you open a Sear’s charge account? Isn’t there, like, an age when you can’t drive anymore – I mean, c’mon, this lady had to be 102. I could smell her decaying flesh as I deftly did that school-zone pass, just missing that crossing guard (talk about a pissed-off look! “Fuck you, lady, no kids here. What’re ya doing in the middle of the road?”). I’m special, my body chemistry isn’t like other people – I can drink 8 or 9 beers and drive just fine. In fact, I think I drive even better. Seems that I concentrate more. Pisses me off that I can’t afford some medical or scientific analysis to prove it, and so they lump me in with all those 0.08% DUIs. I wasn’t drunk! Hell, I was just getting started.

Alright, enough about me. How was your day?

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