It wasn’t that I was running late. I honestly just usually drive too fast. So when I saw the cop – parked sort of in the ditch, with no lights on and behind an almost intentionally-placed saguaro – I instinctively hit the brakes. I was driving down a winding road that I was familiar with so I knew I had just passed the sign that reduces speed from 45 to 35 miles per hour. I had learned to drive along this stretch of road. The Pinal County Sheriff’s car suddenly came to life and began the U-turn that I immediately knew would end with yet another speeding ticket. Moreover, that time, it would mean a suspension of my driver’s license.
I looked down at my speedometer just as I saw the headlights ...view middle of the document...
At a rough estimate, I would guess I have been pulled over for speeding (or some other vehicular offence) a hundred times in the almost twenty years since I passed the driving test at age 16. During those close encounters with the law, I have gotten a citation about a third of the time; well, maybe three-eighths.
To be fair, speeding has not been my only per-se crime. My driving record is painted with a vast spectrum of petty traffic violations, from failing to have proof of insurance that I did in fact have, to driving on an expired registration.
Once I was ticketed for the “unsafe overtaking of another vehicle on the left.” That is, one day I was leaving my house and saw a Deputy County Sherif giving a person a ticket by the road. As I turned onto the highway, I gunned the engine and burned rubber as I took off. I made ray-ban contact with the startled officer as I headed up the highway.
I had completely forgotten about the incident fifteen minutes later when, further along the two-lane state highway, I came up behind a car doing a little under the speed limit. I pulled into the oncoming lane to pass the car when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw those familiar lights. I immediately ascertained this was a deputy who already had it in for me, and he was right on my tail in the oncoming traffic lane. I was then faced with a decision. I could hit the breaks and pull back into traffic behind the car I was passing with a deputy right on my tail, or I could hit the gas and finish passing. Despite a car rapidly approaching towards me and in the oncoming lane, I accelerated and passed the car. This forced the cop to slow and pull back into traffic, something he seemed especially peeved about after he finally got me in the ticket-receiving position.
I suppose my disdain for traffic laws in general came from the person who taught me how to drive – my father. Though he certainly never outright encouraged me to break the law, he certainly taught a theory that some laws are optional. His driving record was far from perfect, but experience had left him with a certain talent at talking his way out of most tickets.
I remember once, on the freeway coming from Nogales to Tucson, we passed a Pima College Department of Public Safety officer in traffic. I spotted the officer, far from his campus jurisdiction, and pointed him out. My father laughed and made a joke about how on the ladder of law enforcement, College DPS officers were on a rung below Border Patrol and just above Corrections Officers. As if telepathically sensing the jest, the officer changed lanes to get behind us and, after a long enough delay to call in the plates, lit up his patriotic lights. My father continued driving for about 3 miles to the next off-ramp, with the officer still in close pursuit. We saw the young officer unsnap his holster as he approached the darkly tinted driver’s side window of the Cadillac. My dad rolled down the window about two inches and plumes of menthol...