Monday, June 30, 2008

I Guess I Look Like a Drug Runner

Twice this spring and summer while driving to Houston, I have been stopped by police officers. Neither time did I get any kind of ticket or citation. The first time, a city policeman pulled me over and advised me that I had made an "unsafe lane change." He peered through my windows then asked for my license and proof of insurance. He asked me where I was going and why I was going there, then he let me go on about my business.
This most recent weekend, a deputy sheriff slipped up behind me and hit the lights. I pulled over. He moseyed up to the car asked for the same credentials and told me the license plate on the car I was driving needed to be better lighted. It was a temporary plate on a rental car. He seemed skeptical until I showed him the rental agreement. He took my license and insurance card, sat in his car a while and then handed them back to me and sent me on my way. Before he did, though, he asked me where I was going and why I was going there.
I answered the questions politely, even though my comings and goings frankly are none of their business. Still, I had nothing to hide, so why make a scene?
Apparently, there's some profiling going on. On both occasions, I was driving (quite coincidentally, by the way) a rented Chevy Trail Blazer on a north-south U.S. highway in east Texas. It makes you wonder if law enforcement agencies have received some kind of memo about middle aged white guys muling smack in rented Trail Blazers. Hey, maybe that's just me watching too many cop shows on the teevee. Unsafe lane change? License plate too dark? We all know those officers put their lives on the line for much more important things, so we must assume they are employing some kind of mechanism to look for more important things.
If you strip me down to my true feelings, I don't think policemen ought to be detaining Guys Like Me for no real reason. The older I get, though, the more I realize that it's prudent just to cooperate. Keep your hands on the wheel, give them what they ask for and usually they will politely go away. If you're nasty to them, you might just get a ticket for unsafe lane change, and who wants to fight that? Plus, as I age, I seem to see these officers as hard working kids out there trying to do some good. There's no reason to mess with them.
Who knows, they might catch a drug runner who forgot to illuminate the license plate on his rented Trail Blazer.

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Workman said...

I had something like that happen to me in Oklahoma and Arkansas in 1993. I was stopped twice and my car was searched... once by a drug dog.

Never ticketed. Never cited.

Each stop took more than an hour. I vowed never to return to the south again. And we all know how well that worked.

Dave and Shannon said...

I have been stopped on the same stretch of road for the license plate light thing. No ticket.

I've also been stopped there for speeding. Ticket(s).

And the only place worse than Waskom, Texas is Bradley, Arkansas where my mother-in-law loved being the New Yorker given a ticket by a deputy named Obie. She didn't mind paying the bill.

Anonymous said...

The stretch of highway between Texarkana and Houston has for years been a high traffic drug running area. The state troopers with consistently the most drug stops are in and around the Carthage area. They look for any and every excuse to pull over vehicles, especially rentals. I only know all of this from what friends and family members in law enforcement in that area have told me. They will ask all sorts of questions to test your composure and see if you give any indication that they should investigate further. You get asked even more questions when you have a concealed weapon license like I do.