Arousing the Attention of Law Enforcement, and Vehicle Customization “Don’ts”

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I try to avoid interactions with law enforcement.  I think most rational people do.  I’m intimidated easily enough, and I really don’t want to be bothered anyway, so I try to just live my life, quietly obeying the rules and generally blending into the wall.

I learned a disturbing truth a few mornings ago.  I should know better, too, but I wasn’t paying attention.

On my car (the illustrious Corolla S, with the 6 speed manual, which is an awesome ride) you can just leave the lights and fog lights on (which I usually do) and they will turn off when one turns the ignition off.  But for some bizarre reason I turned the lights off.  When you turn the lights off, the DRLs (headlights only) still come on.  Usually that’s not a real issue.

The headlights are HIDs and are insanely bright, so I didn’t notice that the parking lights or tail lights weren’t on, as I went off on my merry way through the cop obstacle course between my house and the Y.  I’ve been known to see as many as six cops between my house and the Y (1.8 miles.)  This is particularly odd, considering I make this trip between 5 and 5:15AM.  I know there are quite a few speed traps in that small stretch, so I plan accordingly and keep at a painfully slow 35MPH to avoid an unplanned and expensive speeding ticket.

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So I was completely shocked when I had a cop light me up.  I know I was only doing 35 or maybe a bit less, so what in the flying thunder could this guy want with me?

I did remember the most important thing from my CCW class- let the officer see your hands, because he knows you carry the minute he runs your plates.

So as I stuck my hands out the window, all I could say was, “My weapon is in the trunk.” Which it was.  I’m not about lying to cops.

He asks for my driver’s license, and then asked me if I knew my tail lights were out.  Then it dawned on me- I looked at the dash and realized for some reason I’d turned off the lights and was just running on DRLs.  Oh. Shit.

So the officer- who thankfully wasn’t being a douche bag about it, even though he would have had the right- ran my license.  Seeing I had no record, or outstanding warrants, or reason to believe I was running a meth lab out of a late model Corolla, let me go once he verified that yes, my lights all work- when they’re turned on.

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At least I didn’t get a speeding ticket.

I have to wonder if I’d been treated differently had I been younger, male, or belonged to a different ethnic group.  I know Steve-o was randomly pulled over several times when he had his Audi.  The demographics didn’t look good- a 20 year old kid driving a late model Audi A4 in impeccable condition, in an area where the average young 20 something is unemployed,  on drugs, and not averse to stealing things.  I think the cops just couldn’t believe that someone of Steve-o’s demographic actually worked and earned money to buy a nice car via legitimate means.  In their defense, considering most of his age cohorts, I understand their incredulity.

 

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So… the place of notoriety for those of Steve-o’s generation is the “Busted” paper- getting your mug shot plastered all over Central Ohio.  The list of names (center) were all the bizarre names I found in just that one issue of the “Busted” paper.  Anyone with the last name “Hunt” should really have their head examined before naming their child “Michael.”  Another one I found funny was the name “Ciera,” as if her first name should be “Cutlass.” And the name “Crystal,” no matter how you spell it, leads me to want to call her “Crystal Meth.”  Note to self: do NOT use the “Busted” paper as a reference source for potential baby names.  Although I’m sure some people do.

The badly painted (likely with a house roller) Cincinnati Bengals tribute Civic is a more typical vehicle for someone of Steve-o’s age to be seen driving.  Either that or this distressed Accord:

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This looks eerily like Steve-o’s first car, a ’92 Accord with about 400K on it.

As soon as he could afford it, he traded it on a ’95 Integra- but he’s had plenty of cars since then.

 

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I mean, right MEOW.

Steve-o got to sit in the back of a cruiser (twice) while the cop verified that his temp tag was legit right after he bought the Audi.  Not long after he got his regular plates he got pulled over (again) and the K9 officer who pulled him over thought it appropriate to go through the Audi with the drug dog.  I doubt if they found a cough drop or a gum wrapper, (Steve-o is one of those people who doesn’t eat, smoke or do anything in the car that might leave a mess) but the dog did leave behind some hair and slobber that provoked Steve-o to pay for a $150 detail to remove.  In some ways I’m glad he traded the Audi for a (newer, yes, but less ostentatious) Jetta.   He’s not been pulled over once in the Jetta.  Apparently that’s not as much of a head turner as the Audi.

Do I agree with profiling?  Not necessarily, and I realize that if Steve-o appeared to be anything other than what can only be called “super white” that a simple, “have a seat in the cruiser” could have turned far uglier.  Cops are human too.  I know I profile. I know I hit that door lock switch extra fast in certain parts of town. I’m not saying it’s right to do it, but everyone does.