The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Speeding on the Shore, or, My Lead Foot...

OK, I admit it - I have a lead foot. Call it the last vestiges of my teenage years, call it being a guy, call it being a bit ADHD, call it whatever you want, the point is, I tend to go faster than the posted speed limit. Why? Because I like getting places quickly. I like being able to say, "yep, I got from my home to downtown DC in 57 minutes!". I like being able to say, "I can make it from my house to my parents' house in suburban New York in just over three hours." I like the fact that I made it from Alexandria, Virginia to Ft. Walton Beach, FL in 17 hours - and that was in a rental truck and through a hurricaine!!!

And I've had a largely unblemished record when it comes to speeding. I tend to play it safe and follow some of my father's rules - stay within 10 or 15 miles of the speed limit when on major highways, never cruise in the passing lane, etc. So, until the summer of 2004, I'd only gotten a couple of speeding tickets in the 16 years I'd been driving (yes, I've been pulled over for other things - like driving on expired tags [what can I say - it's the anti-authority libertarian in me] - but I've only gotten two speeding tickets.).

This all changed when I moved out to the Eastern Shore. You know the old cliche about rural town police just itching to catch out-of-own speeders - well, that cliche was invented on Maryland's Eastern Shore. And this blog isn't going to carp about that (though I really could carp about small towns relying on out-of-town speeding tickets to boost their revenues).

The point is, you just shouldn't do above about 69mph on the highways when you cross the Bay Bridge - a lesson I've learned by having been pulled over SEVEN times since I've moved out there in July 2004.

That's right - SEVEN times. But I've only gotten TWO speeding tickets out of that seven - and the last ticket was entirely unintentional (more on this in a moment). I was pulled over, literally, on the way to do my home inspection before closing on my house (stopped for speeding, but given a ticket for driving on expired tags). I was pulled over in Caroline County when I genuinely didn't know that the speed limit was 35. Typical rural speed trap stuff - guy was waiting behind a tree, I pulled off of one road that was 50 mph and was accellerating to 50 when I got pulled over for doing 45 in a 35. I got let off when he found out I was now a "local".

I won't go through all seven times - I will say that after I got pulled over last September after going over the Bay Bridge, I really watched myself. And let me digress and say that while I greatly respect the anti-terrorism duties of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, I am a little troubled by their seeming obsession with setting up speed traps around their limited jurisdictional areas. To a casual observer it seems to me that this is their primary function (it's the same concern I have with the United States Park Police, whose major responsibility in the DC area appears to be flagging down speeders on the George Washington Parkway, who then have to plead their cases in FEDERAL court!!).

My rule now is to really watch my speed once I get across the Bay Bridge. Actually, you need to watch yourself once you hit Cape St. Clair road approaching the bridge, which is the beginning of their jurisdiction. When you come off the bridge, you have to resist the impulse to "drop the hammer" because invariably there's a cop car right near the exit for Rt. 8, and if not there, then someplace along 50 before the Kent Narrow's bridge.

Once you get past there, you're in State Trooper Territory, and MD's finest (seriously - I do have a tremendous amount of respect for these guys) tend to set up their laser traps under highway overpasses (the medians dip down, and they can hide the cruisers behind the pylons supporting the overpasses. Then they themselves hide behind the pylons and just peer around the edges with their laser readers. It's ingenious.).

Once you see them, it's too late. They'll step into traffic and flag you over.

Oh, and speaking of ingenuity, the State Troopers have a new fleet of unmarked cars this year. They're not all Crown Victorias or Grand Marquis - they've got SUVs and smaller coupes, to make them much harder to spot (especially in your rear-view mirror).

So, as I've said, I've been really watching myself since last summer. I put my car on cruise-control once I hit the Eastern Shore, and it served me well.

When I remember to do it, that is. In March, I was getting ready to do a radio interview, and had just pulled onto 301 South from my exit, calculating where I needed to be in order to maximize my cell signal and avoid dead zones. I forgot to put on the cruise control, and sure enough, I was nailed 2 miles from where I'd gotten on the road.

Nailed for what I thought was doing 72 in a 55 (I really make it a point to NOT go much above 70, if at all). 72 was what the trooper told me, too. I got the ticket, and like the first one, decided to go to court to deal with this one (I'd had the fine reduced substantially, and no points, and was hoping to have that happen here, too).

But not only did I not have to pay the $140 ticket, I WUH-UNN, that's right I WUH-UNN!!! (Two syllables)

Found "not guilty"!!!! I feel like Clarence F-ing Darrow!!!!!

Seriously - as I was sitting in court, I realized that all of the speeding cases being called were for 75+ in a 55. Now, this wouldn't have been odd, were it not for the fact that as I understood it, I was clocked at doing 72 in a 55 (which, I readily admit that I _WAS_ doing).

So I began to get a little concerned - especially in light of the fact that this wasn't the same judge who heard my case for my last ticket in December '04. This guy wasn't dropping anyone's fines down to $27, and the best I could hope for would be to not have points put on my license.

I decided that there was no way that I was going to plead guilty to doing above 75, if that was what I was being charged with (yes, I should have looked at my copy of the ticket a little more carefully - both when I signed it, and before going to court that day).

My name is called, I walk to the front, and hear that I am, indeed, being charged with doing 76 in a 55. So, I throw caution to the winds and hear myself plead, "Not guilty" (I figured I'd challenge it - be honest about what I _HAD_ been doing, talk about my extreme caution since my last ticket, etc).

The judge calls for the officer.... who isn't there.

So, I was found not guilty. No evidence, no proof, therefore no guilt.

The postscript is, up until I had stood up and plead not guilty, everyone had been pleading guilty as a matter of course, not realizing that the charging officer wasn't in the court room. But after my case was dismissed, this brought a flurry of not guilty pleas.

So there you go.

I'm going to continue to watch myself - and you all do the same if you're on the shore.

By the way, I'm sorry I've been remiss this week in updating the Liberty Blog. I'm going to be more conscientious - especially in light of Charles Hurwitz' big win this week (the subject of an upcoming post!)


Blogger Iravan said...

Weird. I always thought the Rettop Method was the best for generating traffic. I am going to book mark this blog, nice topics discussed

By the way... I have a chicago traffic site. It pretty much covers Traffic related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

October 25, 2005 9:25 PM


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