Traffic Violation Forces Responsibiility

This weekend I had my first encounter with the law.

No, it wasn't for illegal possession of any kind of drug, a bust for minor consumption or being caught with a fake i.d. in hand.

It was a common traffic violation -- a speeding ticket that left me with a $91 fine in hand.

Considering myself a safe driver, I sat there after the officer left feeling a bit surprised and angry.

After all, I've never been in an accident (at least not one where I have been the driver -- knock on wood. My first date I ever went on however, ended on a sour note when an accident left my date and I stuck in a crunched up sports car).

And I've never been stopped for drinking and driving. Rather, I have always considered myself a lucky individual who felt fairly invincible when it came to speeding and dodging the law -- until Saturday morning.

After waking up at the crack of dawn so I could make it home for my twin nephews' T-ball game, I knew that -- like usual -- I was running late.

So, hoping I could save precious time and make it back before the game started at 9 a.m., I made the decision to put the pedal to the floor and speed a little faster than usual.

Shortly before I reached Fairmount, I passed a cop heading in the other direction. I slowed down in what I thought was a "smooth manuver" (folks, don't even bother trying this, because if they tag you, they tag you -- regardless if you make a last ditch effort to slam on the brakes and shave a few miles off the odometer) and kept driving.

Several miles later I was cruising at 75 mph with few cars in sight. Out of nowhere (as I'm sure many drivers who have been caught speeding can attest) a police car came up on my bumper -- lights flashing.

What followed next was a routine stop. The officer asked for my license and registration (which luckily I had both on me), informed me that I had been speeding and wrote me a ticket.

The rest of the way home I was angry at what had happened, but more upset with myself for speeding.

After telling several of my friends about the incident (but not my parents -- they'll be notified months later...say, when they ask why my car insurance has now become more expensive), I began to wonder if I should have reacted differently.

Should I have been the typical girl and cried like a baby?

Perhaps sobbing and stammering to the cop that "My dad's gonna kill me..." would have left me with only a warning from a sympathetic officer.

Nah, I just couldn't have done that (all those strong women out there who have similiar sentiments, I welcome your praises). Or maybe I could have came up with some lame excuse ("I'm late for my dog's funeral...").

Then again I could have acted scared, stupid or ignorant about what I did (inwardly I was feeling a little of all of the above), but what if any of these actions would have just offended the officer even more?

What I did do was suck it up, accept the ticket and face the fact I had violated the law and must now cough up the fine.

I've done some research online (if you really want to try and beat your ticket, there's a wealth of knowledge on how to do so over the Web) and thought about going to court, but why bother?

Perhaps the next time I'm speeding (which will inevitably happen again -- I mean, come on...who doesn't?) I'll try out one of the above mentioned excuses or turn on those crocodile tears.

Until then, I've chosen to be responsible, pay my dues and stop whining. Oh yeah...and I promise to no longer make fun of the friends of mine who were smart enough to invest in radar detectors.

Write to Gail at GLKOCH@BSU.EDU

-junior journalism major

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