Monday, April 14, 2008

Stopped By The Law - Ticketless Streak Broken!! ... (and video update!)


My 13 year streak of not getting traffic tickets was broken. Yesterday I was involved in a traffic stop and finally got a traffic ticket!

My last traffic citation was in 1995 (speeding) - 13 years ago I am proud to say. Why so proud? LOL, well those that know me well know how I drive. And with the very few times I've been stopped by local police, I somehow never got cited - more on that in a minute :)

Don't worry, I am a very good driver with some good training & experience under my belt, but I don't recommend driving the way I do sometimes to anyone :)

BUT ask yourself this! Was Armin stopped for speeding? Reckless driving? Fail to pay full time attention? Fail to yield right of way? Driving under the influence? Following vehicle too closely? Running a red light?????? NOPE! I was stopped for "Fail to attach plates front & rear"! LOL, in short "no front tag" on Armin's car. Yes, I never did attach my front plate on my 2006 WRX when I bought it because I just didn't think it looked "cool". HAHAHA, so I didn't even receive a moving violation yesterday, 13 years later I just get a simple Maryland state traffic code violation ;)

(BLOG READERS - I've always wanted to post some tips/advice on handling traffic stops. Maybe some of the following info will help... please don't believe for one second it will guarantee a "ticket free" experience! Read on... )

What's funny is I knew 5 minutes before the stop that I was likely going to get stopped. I observed the State Trooper behind me dodging in and out of traffic behind other vehicles on the hunt for violations. Speeding wouldn't be one of them because everyone was now driving the posted speed limit. So the Trooper searched for HOV violators - no luck. He searched for expired tags - no luck. Then as he caught up to me and passed me I could tell he was checking for front tags - and darnit I knew he noticed mine was missing, so he slowed down to get behind me, lit me up and pulled me over.

I did my usual "
respect-for-officer-safety" routine - **Take Notes Folks, This Could Help You In Your Next Traffic Stop!**
  1. Turn off ignition, place keys on the dash
  2. Open all windows (turn on dome lights if at night)
  3. Keep both hands on steering wheel and make no sudden dives or moves - I personally like to cross my wrists and hold the wheel
  4. Breath & relax
  5. Do not argue with the officer - ever. You can do all of that in court
  6. Be respectful and make certain that you (and passengers) do not make any certain gestures or remarks that may heighten the officer's senses even more
  7. Again, DO NOT argue on site, the cop has the authority to stop you and pretty much can articulate probable cause (in most cases) as to why. The more you argue, the more reason the officer will have to find any other problems with your vehicle, you, and your passengers. Piss them off enough, they might even ask you step outside so they can search your vehicle... with probable cause of course (I hope!).
  8. Apologize! Okay I may get flamed for this even though you may feel you have nothing to be sorry about, but it can really improve the rapport in some cases. Again, this isn't "bible", these are just suggestions.
Back to the story...

The Trooper advised why he stopped me and asked for my license & registration. I advised him where those items were and if I could reach for them. He took my stuff, ran my license and did a 10-29 check ("wanted/warrants" check) on me which all came back negative of course. Came back to my car, was very friendly and just casually told me to just attach my front tag on. He even asked about my camera (Boda) bag in the front passenger seat, I even offered to show it to him, but he declined in a friendly manner. You see folks, by the end of our interaction, he was already more at ease with me because of my respect for his safety, while still being alert of my actions. Police never know who they're really stopping so they will always have a guarded sense about them. Their goal is to go home in one piece at the end of the day. So how did those 8 steps help me? Well I have illegal tint on my windows, I think they're 5% darker than they should be. He could've easily cited me for that, but he decided not to, and I know he noticed them. But I believe he figured he'd just stroke me up for the no-front-tag and go find some bigger fish.

Personally, I think it was a desperate ticket for him - I mean c'mon, front tag violation? LOL, I only used that to get probable cause for a stop so I can search a car for drugs! Hehe. Anyway, a violation is a violation so no disrespect to the Trooper or the law.

So how did Armin not get a ticket in the last 13 years? TWO THINGS: 360 degree observation and letting the officers know I am former law enforcement.
  1. 360 degree observation - the key is to NOT get stopped for a moving violation in the first place! Back in the day, I was trained to observe everything around my "bubble" searching for crime & violations everywhere around me, whether on foot or from my vehicle. I still perform the 360 to this day by habit, except on the hunt for police cruisers (marked & unmarked). As for unmarked, I kinda know how cops drive and where they'll be (e.g., blind spot, hiding behind other vehicles, etc). Observe around you, especially behind you every few minutes to scout for police.
  2. Not applicable to you if you're NOT former law enforcement, AND doesn't usually work on State Troopers, they write up anyone. I NEVER ask an officer for any type of professional courtesy. When I do get stopped, I follow my "respect" steps and simply say, "my apologies, I know better than to have done this, I used to stop people for this all the time" ... ding-ding-ding! Bells ring and the officer probes further to follow up on my comment asking the usual cop questions - where were you the job, why'd you leave, etc.. Soon we're talking cop stuff and establishing a good rapport. And a kind "warning" to end the traffic stop :)
I hope you enjoyed this story of my humbling experience on the road. But don't think for one second I'm here to encourage any law breaking of any kind or how to outsmart police! That's NOT my intention. I still have a deep respect for my former brotherhood, but I'm glad I'm not living the hard lives some of them live anymore. I know a lot of my friends have bad experiences with police officers and are usually shocked when they learn about my `97-`03 work history, lol. Even my friend Donna who I was visiting yesterday was shocked and would never had guessed I was a cop.

BTW Donna if you're reading this, my ticket is dedicated to you! LOL ;)

(DISCLAIMER: The information and suggestions provided above will NOT guarantee you getting out of a ticket. These are just based on personal and professional experience and does not even cover the multiple scenarios that can occur in real time out in the field)

George Michael Video Update:
I will be filming my video this Thursday, stay tuned!


Chris Harvey said...

Bad Armin! After all that bragging when Erin and I were in DC. It's okay though because it still isn't a speeding ticket, so you can keep that streak alive.

Donna said...

I was wondering if that was coming back from my lesson. Sorry man! One question. Why open all the windows?? What's that about?

Armin de Fiesta said...

LOL no need to apologize, just having fun with ya :) Opening the windows lets the officer see into your car better. I remember whenever I approached vehicles I was always nervous about what's inside and what I can't see. Believe me it's bit me in the butt before for not seeing into a vehicle well. Windows down just helps visibility a little more. But don't do it if you do not feel comfortable, it's merely a suggestion if you are comfortable doing so. I understand it's not going to work for everyone.

kennykimdotcom said...

Stop procrastinating and put up that video! :) LOL. I actually got pulled over (running a red light - close to it, I think it was still yellow) in my city few weeks back. The officer looked at me and said: "are you Kenny Kim?" Then we chatted, he wrote me a warning and let me go. :)

Armin de Fiesta said...

Are you serious Kenny? LOL Too funny man. You shoulda offered to get a self portrait with him haha! He can brag to everyone, "look I met THE Kenny Kim, Chicago's greatest photographer!"

Anonymous said...

Stop blogging about being pulled over & start uploading pictures! Julie wants to see!!!! - Stacey

Erika Lais Photo said...

Hi Armin ... take care with your drive!!!! We don't want to loose a great photographer!!!!! kkkkkk!! I know you are a speed racer but the police seems don't know!!!!!

Anonymous said...

And all this from a former Po-Po himself!

shawnreeder said...

Great story Armin. I really enjoyed reading it. Its been a long time since I've been pulled over for anything, but I haven't gotten a ticket since I was 17.

I just like you, am real nice, respect the officers because they have a real hard job and never know who they're coming up on, and I've only gotten a warning in the 2-3 times I've been pulled over.

Thanks for sharing. Hope you're well.