A Saturday at the Court-Community Corrections Program Driver Improvement course.
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Our cop also instructed the captives — er, class — that they should “answer the officer’s questions fully and completely” when next they’re pulled over. In other words, be sure to help the cop obtain as much evidence toward your imminent conviction as possible. Throw the Fifth Amendment in the woods. The Fourth and First are already there anyway.
In fact, you should say nothing — nothing! — to a cop who’s pulled you over beyond the legally required minimum: Your name. And even that is not actually required. You may have to hand over ID and other paperwork. You do not have to answer his questions. Because anything you say will be used against you. A shoulder shrug, an “if you say so” — anything noncommittal - is what you’re obligation to yourself is. Our cop said nothing along those lines — but then, we know what team he plays for.
He also said: “DMV points are not associated with insurance.” I see. And gravity is not associated with falling, either.
There was also a lot of annoying — because arbitrary and so misleading — “statistics” and “facts” presented as the absolute truth. For example, that “hearing makes up seven percent of all driving knowledge.” Really? Says who? How?
Or, that if you are traveling 55 MPH, it takes “265 feet” to come to a stop. Well, maybe. It depends on the car — and the driver. Some cars have much better brakes than others — and this will have a dramatic effect on stopping distances. My 1976 Trans-Am, for instance, surely requires a lot more real estate to come to a stop from 55 MPH than a new BMW M3. Logical conclusion: The M3 driver is probably safer at 55 than I am in my Trans-Am at 45. But the ticket-writers make no distinction — and neither did our “instructor.”
Also, driver reaction times vary. Senile Sam or Texting Tammy might take longer to notice stopped traffic up ahead than Alert Andy.
Which driver is more likely to wreck?
We didn’t get into it, but implicit in all traffic laws is the Law of the Dumbed-Down Average. The law — giving it the benefit of the doubt — assumes the least-able, the marginally competent, and bases its prescriptions accordingly. This may be okay for the marginally competent — but for the competent, it’s not unlike being required never to rise higher than the sixth grade even though you’re capable of graduate-level work. Alert Andy, for example, is probably less likely to cause an accident than Texting Tammy - even if Alert Andy is “speeding” and Texting Tammy isn’t.
We all know this in our guts (some of us, in our heads) and it’s why so much of what passes for “traffic safety enforcement” grates as much as it does. We know we weren’t driving unreasonably fast. We know we just had the bad luck to drive through a speed trap (as in my case).
We wish they’d just take our money — and spare us the Cloveronian lecture about “safety.”
The selective definitions of impairment also bugged me a lot. In my state, where the legal drinking age is 21, a person can be convicted of drunk driving if they are found to have a blood alcohol (BAC) level of .02 percent. Over 21 — and legally able to drink — and it’s .08 percent. So, the young man or woman — old enough to “fight for our freedoms” in the military with all sorts of dangerous equipment — who has the bad luck to roll up on a Fourth Amendment Free Zone (that is, a “sobriety checkpoint”) and who blows a .02 — an amount so small it amounts to nothing in terms of meaningful impairment — gets a DWI on his rap sheet, with all that entails.
But the glaucoma-laden, Alzheimer’s addled old coot who drives 37 in a 55 is left unmolested. After all, “we’re all going to be old one day.”
A cop actually said this to me.
There was much more, including a detailed explication of the DMV’s points system, notable for its disproportionate punishments such as six points — held against you for 11 years — if you’re ever caught driving faster than 80 MPH… anywhere. Even on the highway, where the speed limit is 70 — and everyone’s doing 75-80.
And then there was the absurd.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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