Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blinded By the Light

by John Bauer

What started out as a basketball recruiting trip to Dassel-Cokato, ended up being a brush with the law for this ticket-free driver. My 3 1/2 hour drive home from visiting a very talented 6'2" basketball player from Annandale, Minnesota was getting very tiresome. But up ahead was the dull glow of the only stop light in Aitkin County. "I'm in Aitikin! Only one hour to go before I'm home."

Then, on a long straight stretch, it appeared! It was the blinding bright glow of high beams burning my road-weary eyes. As the car got closer (100 yards) I decided to flick my brights as to make the other driver aware that their headlights were on high-beam. Nothing! Not one single acknowledgement! Being a little disgruntled for this lack of highway respect, I flicked my high beams again as the vehicle quickly passed me by. One glance in the mirror revealed a Aitkin County Sheriff pulling a shitty and heading my way with with red, blue and white lights gleaming. I quickly pulled over, pulled my drivers license from the billfold, rolled down my window and waited patiently for the officer to glare in my window.

First words out of his mouth were, "How come you flicked your brights after I flicked you back?" I responded by saying, "You didn't dim your lights! I was watching and so was my co-pilot (assistant coach) Natasha Hamilton." He quickly disagreed with my (our) observations and went back to his vehicle for what seemed forever. Now let me set the stage for his return. It's 12:05 AM, I've been driving for nearly 7 hours, I'm in a State of Minnesota vehicle, driving 58 miles per hour with my dims on and I've never had a ticket in my life! Then it came, a tap on the window signaling Buford T. Justice's return. "I'm issuing you a citation for $120 for failing to dim your high beams," he beamed. "You have two options, pay it before your court date of March 29. 2010 at 10:30 A.M. or show up at court to contest it." I was stunned! What started out as an innocent (courteous) flick of the high beams to make my driving safer turned into a serious moving violation. "You've got to be kidding me! You're issuing me a ticket? I'm appealing this! You never dimmed your lights!" In his small in stature voice, he said, "That's the magic of the in-car camera." "I'm not denying I flicked my high beams at you, I'm saying you didn't dim your lights and no on-car camera can detect that! Once again I reiterated that I would be appealing this and he said, "Have a nice day sir" and vanished into thin air.

Now from what I understand there have been numerous articles in the Aitkin paper that these type of incidents are commonplace in Aitkin County and something needs to be done about it. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

It's simple John- writing tickets helps to meet law enforcement quotas while generating revenue for cash strapped rural communities. You just happened to be the latest victim. Good thing you didn't get arrested or your car didn't get towed. That would have helped stimulate even more revenue while leaving you red-faced and poor.

Gord said...

John, your careful account of the event, backed up by your alert assistant coach, should carry weight in traffic court. By all means, tell your story and ask to have the ticket revoked.

I am well acquainted with the last three Aitkin County Sheriffs and the current Aitkin Chief of Police.

I will follow this case closely, with interest.

- Gord Prickett, former Aitkin County Planning Commission Chairman

Harvey said...

In 1968, I drove from Duluth to LA with two friends. We traveled on I-80 some of the time. It wasn't completed yet. We'd drive for a while on I-80, then for a while on US 30, which was a two-lane highway. At night, sometimes you could forget if you were on 30 or 80. We met a driver who had
evidently gotten confused and was driving in our lane. After that close call, we flicked our high beams at anyone that didn't dim their lights as they approached - whether they were driving with high or low beams. We just wanted to make sure the oncoming driver was alert and aware. Either this cop's headlights were poorly aligned, or he had lapsed into a spell of inattentive driving. Maybe you woke him up!

kristinek said...

Now you can understand why I am a public defender. By all means challenge your ticket, especially because you have a witness. Please keep the blog updated.