A long time ago, hopefully beyond the statute of limitations, I was at a Fourth of July party the BATF would have gone wild for. Drunk people with illegal fireworks and illegal cigars. Sober, I nearly got incinerated by a bonfire. Seems like a miracle nobody got hurt. The only harm was done by traffic cops.
Sometimes police on I-80 in Pennsylvania dress up and play soldier, laying camouflaged in the grass shooting laser beams into traffic. That day they were using a parked car so the game was who sees who first.
A couple coming to the party won the game by a second. The driver slammed on the brakes, the officer shot… and the score was a ticket for 71 in a 65.
That made me suspicious. On Pennsylvania highways police can’t write you up for less than 6 over when using radar or laser. What are the odds that the officer locked on at exactly the minimum ticketable speed? Slim.
I figured the officer saw the car’s nose dip before he measured a legal speed. He didn’t want to let somebody go who had obviously been speeding in a sports car. So he did the least dishonest thing.
If the charge had been unsafe driving he could have explained why he thought the car was going dangerously fast. But the car wasn’t going dangerously fast, and the system hardly cares about unsafe speed. That’s the least serious offense known to the license point system. 2 points. There are no 1 point offenses.
Driving with the flow of traffic past Erie is a worse offense than unsafe speed. Driving 71 in a 55 is worse than careless driving or running a stop sign. Sports car on the open highway… they’ll take your license away.
Like most states’, Pennsylvania’s traffic court system is designed to punish people for driving at safe speeds and let them off easy for driving at unsafe speeds.
To compensate a little, the rules of the game say the serious “bad number” offense should be proved by a machine-generated number.
So what I think happened is the officer made up a number. If you put him on trial for perjury I’d say there’s reasonable doubt, but I think that’s what happened. Some people think it’s OK to lie to convict a guilty person.
The driver was speeding but the officer didn’t play fair. The rules of the game say if you hit the brakes in time, you’re supposed to get away with it.
It’s part of the silly system we have. You could imagine trials being about good driving, bad driving. Instead they’re about good number, bad number.
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