Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Belt Cop

Oh boy, the Illinois State Police are out looking for seatbelt violators again. I have no problem with the seatbelt law; in fact, I was a strong proponent 20+ years ago when wearing a seatbelt first became mandatory. But I’ve always had a question about how easy it is to accurately enforce. Sure there are clear cut situations, like after an accident, where it’s obvious if someone was beltless. But I’m not so sure about a cop sitting on the side of the road being able to determine if I’m wearing a seatbelt as I’m speeding by at 65 miles per hour. And I base that skepticism on personal experience.

One day about five years ago, I was pulled over by a State cop for a (very alleged) moving violation. While examining my driver’s license, the cop noted, verbally, that I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Which was true at that moment as I sat in my cart on the side of the road.

You see, I had unbuckled my seatbelt (once I was pulled over) so I could get my wallet out of my back pocket. I’d been stopped enough times to know the cop was going to need my license which I kept in my wallet. I was ready for him when he got to my window.

Anyway, I tell this cowboy why I don’t have my seatbelt buckled at the moment but he clearly did not believe me. Why, I’m nor sure. I mean don’t most men remove their seatbelt to get to their wallet? I dunno, maybe not but I do.

Well, the cop just knows I’m lying but since he had already determined he was giving me a ticket for my (very alleged) moving violation, he apparently decided to just let the seatbelt thing go.

But what if he had been on one of these ‘Click It or Ticket’ crusades? I would have gotten a ticket for something I was completely innocent of. (Actually, the ticket I got was for something I was completely innocent of but that’s another story).

I guess I just have to question the ability of police to always determine who is and who isn’t wearing a seatbelt.


Anonymous said...

I guess I just have to question the ability of police to always determine who is and who isn’t wearing a seatbelt.

It's not their job to determine guilt. That is the court's job. You provided evidence to the officer that you were not wearing a safety belt so he had every reason to ticket you for that also. Moral of the story: Don't unbuckle yourself to fiddle about. Officers really prefer you don't fiddle about where they can't see you that well anyway.

As an ending note, officers become quite adept at noticing seat belt usage. It is a part of their daily work. I imagine the you possess some keener sense with the things you do daily compared to the general novice.

Dave said...

OK, but if this officer had been so adept at noticing seatbelt usage he would have seen that I was wearing one prior to being pulled over which kind of proves my point.