Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It is obviously that time of the month (quota time, that is).

I got stopped by the police this evening on my way home, just 125m from my front door. The apartment building where Dad and I live is at the end of a small road off the main street, and as made the turn off, I noticed two sets of flashing blue lights behind me. Seeing cop cars in my area is not all that unusual, and thinking not too much of it and not hearing a siren, I continued on my way, BUT the two cars followed me into the complex, then down the ramp as I entered the underground parking area. Realizing that I was their target, I stopped the car half-way in, got out, then asked, "Are you stopping ME?!"

Clearly, cops are not used to little geeky girls with grandma glasses and Louise Brooks hairdos approaching them with confused faces when they're trying to get on with their very important business of racking up traffic violations. "Get back into vehicle, Miss!" one of the two cops yelled. I did, then asked through the window, "What have I done wrong?" One of the cops came over and with a very serious tone said, "You have a headlight out. You are driving an unsafe vehicle." The other cop came out with a flash light and circled my car, looking in to inspect for who knows what. Then, the first cop demanded that I turn off the radio, asked what was in wagon part of the station wagon (it was my dad's wheel chair motorized ramp), and then for my license and registration. "Don't you think I should move my car so as not to block people trying to get either in or out of the parking lot?" I asked. "No, Miss, stay where you are!"

I sat in my car for some time, families with children passing by and looking concerned, and a neighbor yelling in the background "What happened?!" Cop number one came back, asked me a bunch of questions about my job ("I'm a public school teacher, but I only teach three days a week because I take care of my elderly father who has cancer." I explained trying my best to sound saintly), my residence, my social security number, then handed me a citation slip; I was nailed for TWO offenses: driving with a headlight out ($47)AND driving an unsafe vehicle ($97). I looked carefully at the slip and the cop said, "Your car is unsafe because the light is out, so that's two violations."

Generally speaking, I try to limit my dealings with policemen (and policewomen, for that matter), so I just signed the slip, tried to look helpless, and wished the officers a good evening. But when I got home, I was not happy. "Dad, that's double jeopardy!" I yelled. "Damned right, it is!" agreed my loyal, lawyer Daddy. "$150 is outrageous!" he declared, and then he told me to contest it in court.

Now, just to be sure about my understanding of the "double jeopardy" clause in the constitution, I went online and found this from the fifth amendment: "...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." Fining me twice for one offense does seem to be in violation of this fundamental constitutional right, though in fairness, I reckon that in this new and globalized hypercaptialism we find ourselves in today, the amendment should be ratified to include "pocketbook" with "life and limb". And, as constitutional rights deal with matters of the nation, and I think traffic violations are a something states or the local goverment handles, I do believe amendment 14 allows me to apply amendment 5 to my situation with "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States".


Patient readers, what do you reckon? Should I fight this one in court in attempt to save $100 (I will definitely have to pay the first one as it cannot be denied that my headlight was out), or should I just save myself from the hassle by sending in a check?

I would appreciate any thoughts on this and do leave a vote on my poll to the right.

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