Monday, May 25, 2009

Traffic School 101

One of our primary responsibilities as parents is setting a good example for our children – especially when our teens are riding with us in the car. I have failed miserably on that count, I’m afraid. Case in point:

Last week, I was driving my teen and two of her friends to the beach. While they were taking goofy pictures of each other in their sunglasses and bathing suits in the back seat, my cell phone rang. I put it up to my ear to answer it just as a Highway Patrol officer pulled up alongside me.


Now, I’m one of those mavericks who refuses to buy a hands-free device simply because the law says you have to. I’ve read one too many reports about the possible link between cell phones and brain cancer, so I try to keep the radiation away from the vicinity of my head by using my speakerphone.

OK, that and because I’m too cheap and lazy to buy a Bluetooth.

Anyway, up until that moment, civil disobedience had worked well for me. But I knew I was toast, and I had to at least TRY to get out of the ticket. So here’s what three teenagers learned from me – good or bad, you decide -- about how to weasel out of a traffic ticket:

1. Play Dumb (very effective when you really are blonde): I pretended I didn’t know why he pulled me over. I had just bought my car, so as he walked up to my window, I said: “I know . . . I don’t have my plates yet. I just bought this car three weeks ago, so the plates are coming.”

Did it work? Hardly. “You were on your cell phone without a hands-free device, Ma’am,” said Mr. No-Nonsense. DAMN! And what’s this “Ma’am” stuff??

2. Act surprised and admit fault, but rationalize it: “Oh, of course! Yeah, I was just answering it. But I put it on speakerphone right away!”

“The law requires you to have a hands-free device, Ma’am.” He wasn’t budging. And there’s that “Ma'am” reference again!

3. Remain calm and try to sound intelligent (the dumb-blonde thing wasn’t working): “To be honest, Officer, I am afraid to use a Bluetooth. I’ve read a lot of reports about how the radiation from cell phones and cellular devices has been linked to brain cancer and could cause the rapid growth of cancerous cells.”

What’s that?? . . . he nodded! I think I had him. “I understand, Ma’am, but there are ways around that. You can buy the plug that goes from your ear to the cell phone.”

4. Play dumb again, but be gracious: “Really? I never heard of those. I’ll have to get one. Thanks for the tip, Officer.”

Uh-Oh! He started to pull out his ticket pad. Flattery was getting me nowhere. Quick! Think of something!

5. Beg, plead, cry and lose all sense of dignity: “Officer, please, please, PLEASE don’t give me a ticket!! I just finished traffic school a few weeks ago and I can’t afford another ticket or a ding on my record. I’m a single mom, trying to take care of two daughters, and I just can’t afford this ticket or higher insurance rates. PLEASE!

He started to soften. OMG . . . he was human, after all! He glanced at the teens in the back seat of the car and said, “OK, Ma’am. Please drive safely.” Off he went, and this time I didn’t care that he called me “Ma’am.”

While I’d like to take full credit for engaging my irresistible feminine wiles to get out of this traffic ticket, I also think it helped GREATLY that I had three teenaged girls dressed for the beach, wide-eyed and smelling like coconut oil, in the back seat of my car.

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Palymama said...

I got pulled over recently and had 4 teenage girls in my back seat. Evidently, my brake lights weren't working. This was the ONLY time I was glad I was stopped. I don't think I would have ever realized they didn't work. Of course, maybe it had to do with my husband "working"on my headlights the week before? Anyway,the girls all thought it was hilarious. I wished I hadn't offered to drive them. And, I ended up with a "fix it" ticket which required a fee AND an inspection (which cost a fee) It's a racket if you ask me.

Lynn said...


From what I understand, the fines collected from traffic citations are the primary source of revenue for a city. I'm sure the officers are encouraged in their daily briefings to "get out there and make some money!" I was in traffic school a few months back on a Saturday, and the courthouse was PACKED with people, just like me. At $325 a pop, I estimated they pulled in about $250,000 -- just in ONE DAY! YOu're right, it is a racket. But I am happy that you got your brake lights fixed, especially with that precious cargo in the back seat.