Saturday, I took a trip up to Chattanooga, TN to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. This probably doesn’t sound like the start to a great car related story (and it really isn’t), but I’ll still try to keep it somewhat interesting.
Anyhow, the reason I mention this is because I did have a bit of an automobile related story happen during the trip, and unfortunately it wasn’t really a good one. Basically, Laura and I were in route to the Aquarium and had almost arrived. The trip had been quite fine up to this point (with the exception of getting mildly lost trying to find our way to a really strange Bojangles in north GA for morning biscuits and being pounded by heavy rain most of the drive), but as we got to the main exit for the Aquarium, things got strange. I made my way over to the far right lane to exit but quickly slowed as I saw a police car appearing to merge back into traffic (had his left blinker on and it seemed as if he had just finished pulling someone over). I got behind the police car and waited for him to merge, but he slowed down as if he wanted me to go around him. I slowly proceeded around the car (he was partially blocking the lane, but not nearly enough to make it seem like he was trying to keep me from getting off the exit), and then immediately saw another officer in the middle of the lane.
At this point, I was a bit confused but still didn’t think anything bad was going on. There was a SUV in front of me that looked as if he had been pulled over, so I waited for the officer to move or wave me by so it wouldn’t look like I was trying to run him over. I was finally waved down, but instead of being told to go on, the officer asked for my license and insurance. This was making things seem even more odd, but figuring we were the first customers at a routine traffic checkpoint (there was nothing at all to indicate any reason for the exit to be closed – no wrecks, fires, or gun fights going down), I handed over my documents. The officer seemed friendly and didn’t mention me violating any laws, so I was courteous and waited around to be set free. This started to take a while however, and eventually the officer came back to my car and asked me to pull over in front of the SUV.
Strange. Laura and I joked about being ticketed for confusion, but still didn’t think any law-breaking had gone on so we anxiously awaited my documents to be returned. After what seemed like another 10 minutes or so, I saw the officer walk my way with what clearly appeared to be a ticket in his hand. I got a bit worried, and as he approached he informed me that I was being cited for “violating a traffic device”.
“Huh?” was my initial thought. There was a moving police car with his blinkers on trying to merge at the top of the freeway. How is that a traffic control device? I tried asking the officer these questions in a friendly manner, and he didn’t seem to pay me much mind, other than telling me I need to appear in Chattanooga court at 10 AM on a random Tuesday in March. I was completely blown away at how ridiculous this scenario was turning out to be, but figured it would just be a cheap $10 or $20 ticket that I could pay by phone and just be done with it. I quickly pulled out my phone and pulled out the Chattanooga city fee listing and was even more angered.
Apparently everything in that city (aside from not wearing your seatbelt – only $10) is pretty much a $119 fine. Many of these choices were way cooler than avoiding a traffic device as well: Speeding up to 25mph over, operating an improper vehicle on a roadway (this particularly sounds kinda fun), wrong direction on a one way street, or driving on a sidewalk would have been some of my other more exciting choices for the same price (or even less for a couple of those).The most annoying thing now is that if I were to even try and fight it, it would involve a ~4 hour round trip and probably even staying up there the night before, which would quickly cancel out the savings if they even did drop it in court (and since it would be my word against the officer’s, that isn’t even overly likely).
I guess if there’s a moral to all of this, it’s to do something really outrageous when you’re in the Chattanooga city limits and at least make your ticket worthwhile. Next time, I think I’ll take an improper car (maybe some kind of fully built drift machine) the wrong way down a one way street while on a sidewalk. Way cooler than this made-up revenue generating “traffic device” scam that we got caught in this time.
Police car with blinker on = traffic control device
Everybody knows that, Cordy.
It reminds me an experience 30 years when I was busted for speeding by a Chattanooga cop with radar. It was driving in heavy traffic and I couldn’t imagine how he picked me out of the crowd, other than my car being colored “pull me over red” and wearing out of state plates (Georgia). I asked the cop how he got me instead of the other cars and trucks close to me and he mumbled something about being trained. I followed up with a question about how far away can he be precise in aiming at his target. I don’t remember the specific answer, but for grins lets say he answered 500 feet. I then asked him to look at a traffic sign down the road and tell me if it was closer or further away than 500 feet. Again he mumbled and finally admitted he couldn’t say for sure. I took his answer to traffic court a week later and told the judge about our discussion. I said to the judge “if the cop couldn’t estimate the distance between a standing location and a permanently fixed sign and he can’t say, how can I expect he knows how far away my allegedly speeding car was when he claims he caught me on radar and not someone else nearby. The judge asked the cop if my recollection of the discussion about distances to the sign, etc. were correct and the cop acknowledged it was true. The judge immediately three out the speeding charge and sent me on my way! Yeehaw, sometimes the good guys win!
I say we try and put together a meet at the courthouse in Chattanooga on your court date. And I’m kinda serious about this idea. I think.
Seems they are trying to find new ways to cover budget shortcomings.
Wow that’s amazing.
I’d do some research on that little stunt they did and why they were doing it in the first place.
There had to be a reason for them to be there.
I’d fight that, even if it was a waste of time for me personally.
If I fought and won it would allow other people to site my incident to help their own.
I live in a puny town and our system is corrupt as well.
Our cops love to tailgate you, even sometimes bumping you, just to get you to speed so they can ticket you for their daily quota.
If I was somewhere around you there I’d be there for support.
But as it is I got yer back even if I’m a few thousand miles away.