Police Encounters of Various Kinds

First Encounter
I was driving a friend’s jalopy, which I don’t think was capable of exceeding the speed limit. We saw lights and pulled over. After handing over license and registration, the nice police officer asked me what time it was. I politely told him I didn’t know and expected him to get on with it and tell me why we were pulled over. He just looked at me. I just looked at him — and wondered what was going on. He asked me if I wanted to guess what time it was. I gave up hope of an explanation and asked my friend if he knew. Although confused, I was willing to play along. I turned to the officer and said, “We’re guessing around 9:00″…He answered, “It’s about time to turn on your lights.” I still haven’t been able to come up with a snappy retort.

Second Encounter
I got a speeding ticket.

Third Encounter
To remind myself of the second encounter, I made a color copy of my ticket (about 30% of its original size, so I hope there is no legal issue there) and attached it to the Krishna beads hanging around my rear view mirror. I figured this would remind me to always obey traffic laws. So, a few days later, driving through Washington Terrace around 2:00 or 3:00 in the am, I was pulled over again for not totally coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. The officer was pulling out his ticket book when he noticed the miniature ticket hanging from my rear view mirror. I told him the story and explained that I needed to come up with something else because this obviously wasn’t working. He must not encounter too many of these reminders because he got a real kick out of it and let me off with a warning. I guess it worked…just not in the way I anticipated.

Fourth Encounter
The year was 1998, and there was a lot of hubbub about how Montana had just gotten rid of the speed limit. We were on our way back from Canada and were driving on a long straight stretch of highway. To give you an idea how long and how straight, we were traveling around 110 mph in my white Montero, “Rhino,” which took his sweet time getting up to such speeds. Well in the distance we spied a highway patrolman. The only details we knew regarding the speed limit in Montana was that there wasn’t one. So, as far as we knew, we were not breaking the law. That and a commitment from two friends in the car to pay any fines or raised premiums convinced me to keep going. Half expecting to go to jail for reckless driving, completely expecting to be pulled over, we drove right passed the highway patrolman, glancing at the rear view mirror and putting together our argument about the speed limit. Sorry to disappoint, but nothing happened. No night in jail, no increase in premiums, not even a warning. We just kept driving. I certainly do not condone this behavior and consider myself very lucky to now be able to say we drove 100 mph past a police officer.

I looked up the details on the Montana speed limit and found the following on Wikipedia, the source for all knowledge:

From December 1995 through December 1998, Montana had only a “reasonable and prudent” speed limit on rural roads, meaning that speeds that were not reasonable and prudent were illegal and ticketable. From December 1998 through June 1999 (6 months), Montana had no rural highway speed limit whatsoever. However, a law prohibiting reckless driving, applicable to extreme speeds but less stringent than the previous “reasonable and prudent” standard, still applied.

I guess 110 is reasonable and prudent.

“Rhino” (1995 – 2005)

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