About two weeks ago, I had the unfortunate opportunity of being pulled over by a twenty-something cop who thought he knew it all about traffic law. It was nearly 11 pm on a busy street when a girl on her cellphone zipped into the street. I pressed my brakes so hard, the tires squealed. As she landed across the street, I heard sirens and saw blue and white lights.
The officer asked for my insurance card which I provided.
“This is not valid for presentation,” said the cop, pushing his glasses over the bridge of his nose.
“It is,” I said, pointing to the card.
“It isn’t. And you failed to yield to a pedestrian and you improperly used your horn.”
“She ran into traffic.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
When he came back to the car, he handed me a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Of course, my blood boiled, but there was nothing I could do.
Last week, I heard the ticket. I thought I would catch a break when the officers in the other defendants’ cases failed to show and so they were dismissed. Nope. Glasses Cop showed up in a White Sox hoodie.
“If you plead guilty,” said the judge to me, “You’ll have to pay just $214 in court fees, no traffic fine and this will not be reported on your driving record.”
“What if I want a trial?” I asked.
“If you lose, the conviction will go on your driving record, you will have to pay court fees and I could fine you an additional $500.”
I contemplated pleading out. But my ego would not let me. I felt I was right.
“I will take the trial,” I said.
After Glasses Cop gave his side, I gave mine. I argued that the girl abruptly entered the street, endangering not just her life and mine but others as well.
“And Illinois traffic law section b says no pedestrian shall suddenly run or walk into oncoming traffic,” I ended.
The judge was stern-faced. I could not tell what she was thinking.
“After hearing both sides, I find the officer to be credible. I find the defendant credible as well. Since the State has failed to meet its burden of proof, I find the defendant not guilty,” said the judge.
As she read her verdict, I was a plethora of emotions from anxious to nervous. Then, I was elated. As I left the courtroom, I thanked the judge and the officer. But Glasses Cop was highly upset. If looks could turn people to stone, I would have been one.
Someone once told me, “You can’t beat the system, but you can trick it.” I agree.