On Friday night I was out far too late with some of my friends playing Ultimate Frisbee on the PS3. When I finally started home, it was that time of night when there are almost no other cars on the road. It was also that time of night when if you do see another set of headlights, you can bank on a 50/50 chance that it’s a cop since only crazies and the men in blue run the roads after three.
Because of this, if I’m out late, I always drive under the speed limit and I’m always über careful not to attract attention to myself. This was especially true Friday night since my truck registration expired at the end of November, and I hadn’t gotten around to renewing it.
One mile from home, I pulled up to an intersection and waited for the light to change. So far so good.
Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, headlights appeared behind me. Please don’t be a cop, I thought. In my rearview mirror, I thought I could make out unlit blue, red, and white lights on top of the SUV.
It’s a cop. It’s a cop. Please don’t notice my registration. Please don’t notice my registration.
The traffic light finally changed to green, and I crept into the intersection, thankful that he hadn’t flipped his flashers on.
Four seconds later, I was pulled over to the side of the road, and this was the reflection in my side mirror. Turns out I wasn’t as lucky as I had originally given myself credit for. I shook my head and tried not to laugh. Damn it. I thought. One freaking mile from home…
It seems I get pulled over about once every year, always for expired registration. The cop walked up to my window and asked the classic question. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“I’ll give you three guesses,” he said, smiling.
“I only need one, sir. It’s my registration,” I mumbled while silently cursing myself for procrastinating.
“Yep. Can I see your license?” I handed him my license. “Is this your current address?” I told him it wasn’t. “Are you aware that by law you are required to change your address on record when you move?”
“No sir, I wasn’t.”
“You are. Can I see your registration please?” I reached into the glove box and pulled out my registration.
“Yep, wow, missed it by two months this year!” The cop laughed.
“Have you been drinking tonight?”
“Can I see your proof of insurance?” I reached into my wallet and pulled out a faded insurance card. “Are you aware that this shows your insurance as being expired by more than a year?”
Oh crap. “It’s current, officer. I just haven’t switched out the cards. Man, I’m really batting a thousand tonight, aren’t I?”
The cop laughed.
“You are required to carry current proof of insurance at all times. The cost of the fine is $400 if you don’t. If you’re in an accident, it’s $1,000.”
Oh crap. “Sir, that’s my bad. I will take care of that immediately. Please have mercy. Please have mercy. Please have mercy. PLEASE have mercy.
Then, I had my golden opportunity.
The cop looked closer at my face and said, “hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”
But, I blew it.
“Hmmm… I don’t know. Once I helped some cops with some dogs that were on the loose. Could that be it?” I was hoping it would strike up a conversation. Instead he looked at me and frowned.
“I don’t really have anything to do with dogs.”
Okay, I’m going to stop the story right there.
What is wrong with me? Why didn’t I come up with something awesome like, “Oh yeah, weren’t you there the day that we were working to raise money for Operation Smile?” or better yet, “Oh yeah, weren’t you at that fire when I jumped out of a four-story window to rescue a baby and a dog in a house full of people I had never even met?”
Yeah. That would have been a better way to bring dogs into it.
Instead I sat like a lump and took my ticket from the officer. At least he was nice and only wrote me up for the expired registration. He definitely could have hit me with a lot more than that!
So, for what it’s worth, thanks Officer. Oh, and Dear IRS… if I blog about my traffic violation is the $40 considered a tax write-off?
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. What are your favorite cop/pull-over stories? Does anybody else have as hard a time every year registering their vehicle as I do?