Saturday, January 07, 2006

Officer Officious

There was a rollover accident on the I-10 today, and the freeway was actually closed for a time. I was oblivious to this fact when I picked up the kids at school and headed down the 202 to go for our usual Friday Border's run.

By the time we got to the 202/10 interchange, the highway had finally re-opened and cars were trickling through. I only needed to get on the 10 to immediately get off it; unfortunately I was already committed (trapped on the off ramp) before realizing just how bad the traffic situation was (parking lot).

It took us literally an hour to go about a half-mile, and I was inching along the breakdown lane (along with a zillion other cars just trying to get to the damn exit) when Bad Timing struck: a state trooper had pulled someone else over and was just finishing writing up that citation when I happened to be squeezing by his car.

He walked over to the van and gestured for me to put down the passenger side window, and proceeded to read me the riot act for driving on the shoulder. He read out the text book definition of the breakdown lane and its purpose, and then asked me, quite pointedly, "Would you normally be driving in this lane?"

Mindful that this was a man who could force me to spend hours in traffic school or increase my insurance premiums, I kept a lid on my already-frazzled temper. Trying to pacify three hungry kids stuck in traffic for an hour is not conducive to a peaceful outlook on anything. I replied, "No, sir, but this is not a normal situation."

Then he told me he wouldn't be writing a citation but he was giving me a verbal warning for driving on the shoulder. I asked him, "Are you also going to stop and warn the 100 cars behind me, sir?" It's not like I was the first and only person driving on the shoulder, dude!

I knew I was skating on very thin ice there, but this guy was a complete idiot. At this point I'm observing that we are actually blocking traffic, and all the other cars behind me in the breakdown lane are having to pull out and around me so as to go on their way. Officer Officious blah-blahs something else to me -- I wasn't really listening at that point, because I was fearing for my bumpers and side view mirrors -- and I asked him, "May I please go now, Officer?"

More blah-blah, two more cars swing around me. Again, I asked: "May I please go now, Officer?"

He dismissed me with, "Have a safe day."



nina said...

You're brave. I don't mess with the officers. They have the handcuffs.

But there is also this legal thing that one can throw at them: a violation of the traffic rules is justifiable in extraordinary circumstances. Rest assured, there are cases to back you up. (I'm sure this is very helpful now, hours/days later... still, just so you know...)

Sheik Yerbootie said...

You now, the officer may have been having a hard time himself. Nothing like trying to clear an accident or reroute traffic and have some nimrods start driving in the breakdown lane - where, I might add, emergency vehicles and other emergency vehicles like TOW TRUCKS have to travel in to get to the accident.

Throw the justifiable in extraordinary circumstances at an officer will get you a ticket quicker than you can say the phrase.

~~ snerk ~~

Joan said...

1. The accident, which had closed the highway, had occurred some hours before this incident, and several miles (and exits) away from where this incident occurred.

2. The encounter I described happened at the foot of an off-ramp. My driving in the breakdown lane was not endangering anyone. I was inching along, along with everyone else in that lane and every other traffic lane.

3. At least 3,000 cars had driven past the officer in the breakdown lane before he stopped me to reprimand me.

4. By stopping me, the officer actually impeded the flow of traffic off the highway and made things worse.

I don't usually drive in the breakdown lane, as I said to the officer. You'll note that I did not get a ticket.

"Snerk" yourself, Old Man.

Sheik Yerbootie said...

Obviously, you look like a terrorist. With midget terrorists in the car with you. :>)

Serously, you shouldn't be driving in the breakdown lane for any reason - I speak as a former emergency responder myself. It's the only way for responders to get where they need to go.

I still say it's your fault. :>)

Terrorist. :>)

~~ snerk this Young Lady - Now go to your room!! ~~