A study by the auto insurance industry reveals that women stand a better chance of getting out of a traffic ticket than men. Gee, what a surprise. I don’t mean to be facetious, but the auto industry spent God knows how many thousands of dollars figuring this out? And for those who think that it is only young women who reap the benefits of getting off with just a warning, think again. While it is true that 33 percent of younger women can talk themselves out of a ticket, the percentages of women not getting tickets does not go down significantly until a woman reaches the age of 75.
In looking back on my driving experience, I have to admit that I would agree with this study’s findings. Allow me to take you through my police officer encounters. For the record, I maintain that I was the victim of a speed trap in both of these occurrences and only once did I ever have to pay a fine. And that was because my husband was sitting next to me in the car, and I couldn’t do “my best” to get out of the ticket.
The first speeding incident happened on I-81 in the Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. I was traveling to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. It was late, and I didn’t think I was going that fast on the deserted road. As I coasted down this pretty big hill on the highway, I noticed flashing lights come out of nowhere. I wanted to race the cop to the New York border, but my goody-two-shoes husband insisted we pull over. Anyway, at first, the police officer was just going to lecture me. I pleaded ignorance, and he believed me, but then he caught sight of another person in my passenger seat. He pointed his flashlight on my husband’s face, and that is when my opportunity to escape fine free vanished. It was funny how the officer’s demeanor changed immediately. Before I had a chance to cry the words “speed trap”, the officer had written me up for going 20 miles over the speed limit which resulted in a $300 fine. However, the officer said that if I didn’t fight the ticket, there would be no points. It wasn’t a horrible result, but I guess I do not have to tell you that I was not so grateful that Thanksgiving.
The next time I was pulled over was about five years later. I was coming home from the newspaper where I worked as a night side reporter. It was 3 AM, and I was going a little faster than the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit through a not-so-nice part of town. In my rearview mirror, I saw an unmarked car pull up with his lights flashing. The officer didn’t even get out of the car at first. He waited for a second patrol car to pull up behind him.
“Great!” I thought. “Who’s coming next — the freaking SWAT team?” The two officers got out of their cars and started to chat. Finally, the guy in the unmarked car came over and when he saw that I was alone, his entire attitude softened. He also could see that I was a little ticked off.
“Why are you out so late by yourself?” was his first question.
“I’m a reporter, and I just finished my shift. Are you thinking about giving me a ticket? I asked in my most aggravated tone. “How fast could I have been going that you needed to pull me over in an unmarked vehicle at three in the morning? Are you bored tonight? No criminals to catch?”
He very quietly asked for my license and then he added, “Are you just going to yell at me through this whole thing? Can’t we just be friends? I would let you go but I already started to write the ticket. That other guy is my supervisor and I can’t rip it up.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I responded impatiently.
“Well, do you want to know how fast you were going?”
“Officer, it is very late. I was taking extra care to watch the road, not my speedometer.” (I can’t take credit for this line. I heard my mother use it on several occasions, and it always worked well for her. I have passed it on to my daughter as well.)
“Wow, good one!” he said approvingly. “For that comeback, I’ll meet you at court and tell the judge it was my fault. I will make sure you don’t get a fine or anything. I feel bad I pulled you over.”
With the promise that my driving record would remain squeaky clean, I forgave the officer. The next week, I was ducking behind my car while covering a hostage situation, and I saw my officer and his supervisor. They were busy pointing their guns and all, but they waved. So after the armed suspect gave himself up, I walked up to both of them to say hello and to remind my officer of his promise to get me out of the traffic ticket. He assured me he remembered. On the day of my hearing, he showed up and defended me, and the judge literally erased the ticket from my driving record.
This officer turned out to be a good egg. As for my husband, he just kept harping on the fact that I got stopped for a ticket. I kept reminding him that I was not convicted of that traffic violation. But he kept going on and on and on until he came home one day foaming at the mouth. He was stopped for speeding and got a ticket. Did I make fun? Oh yeah, I was insufferable. But, I did pull it together to be a good wife for his court date. Not only did I show up with him at court but I brought our daughter as well. I dressed her in the cutest little outfit she owned. The judge took one look at his devoted family and tossed that ticket, and then told my husband to take us both out to dinner.
If I think about it, I kind of like the idea that women get out of tickets more often than men. I know that sounds sexist, but I think it keeps the power between the sexes a bit more balanced, plus I think when the police show a more sensitive side, people might respect the law more. I know I do.
photo by 100A www.flicr.com