“I don’t want to sound like a smartass, but does this car have a working speedometer?”
Those were the words of the local police officer who sidled up to my passenger door last week.
I’d pulled over quickly, but I was driving a Michigan-plated press car through the heart of a Central Ohio suburb, and the blazing spotlights atop the Explorer Police Interceptor multiplied the tension.
Review coming soon to TTAC, but this bellowing 471hp Lexus isn’t subtle. Perhaps if I were in a minivan, I’d have escaped the gaze of the local constabulary.
Whether you chalk it up to white male privilege, properly-timed driving prudence, or overwhelmingly good fortune, I’ve been *knock wood* remarkably lucky to have only been ticketed twice in over twenty years of driving.
And I’ve only paid one of those tickets.
The second of my two tickets was a simple matter. Heather and I were driving north from our first vacation together on the Carolina coast, and we stopped to see her family along the Ohio River. I made the executive decision to take State Route 60 out of Marietta along the “scenic” Muskingum River, rather than the dull Interstate.
I was driving spiritedly, but not recklessly – but the county sheriff didn’t like this city boy driving his “foreign” car (Ohio-built Accord) so fast on his twisty roads. Thus, I was ticketed for 65 in a 55mph zone.
My first ticket was a bit more…involved.
I was 17. What lunatic allows a seventeen-year-old kid drive a race car like this 150hp Nissan Maxima?
Once again, I was driving along a sinuous road along a river – this one was actually called Riverside Drive! – and I was driving spiritedly. I know that I did hit the brakes before I the officer spotted me. I’m also nearly certain that I saw a third digit light up on the fabled Nissan digital dashboard before I stomped the pedal.
The ticket was written for 76mph. In a 50mph zone.
Since I was under 18, the ticket had to go through the county juvenile court, rather than suburban mayor’s court. And I had to bring a parent.
While I’m pretty certain I’d have lost my license, I do know that the car would have been sold immediately had I told my dad about the ticket. So I did what any teenager would do:
I went to the courthouse a day early to ask how much the fine might be, so I could tell my dad the night before he would have had to accompany me to court.
I parked that demon Maxima in the courthouse garage, and walked to the clerk’s desk nervously.
I needn’t have been so skittish. The clerk searched, and couldn’t find record of any offense. “Are you sure?” I bleated.
“Sometimes the suburbs don’t send all of their tickets to us,” she helpfully offered. “Maybe try again in a few weeks.”
That’s all I needed. I turned on a heel and fairly sprinted to my car. Never heard about it again.
Never told dad, either.
I dug through the Lexus’ glovebox to find the registration and insurance paperwork from the press fleet management company. The officer was shocked to see a local address on my license – again, the Michigan plate may have influenced him, though I don’t dispute for one moment that I was driving a bit more aggressively than I should have been.
I dropped all humility and confessed that I honestly had no idea how quickly I had been going – 49mph in a 35mph zone, as it turns out. I’m convinced that – barring extraneous circumstances that may lead to negative consequences – simply laying oneself at the mercy of the police can be the best way to avoid talking oneself into a ticket.
Indeed, after running my ID and seeing that I wasn’t a repeat offender or otherwise wanted, he let me off with a warning.
Another plus – I started seeing better fuel mileage after I stopped hooning the big Lexus at every opportunity.
Instagram photo and pic of young Chris by me, obviously.