"Well, at least I got to see the officer squirm a little bit"
January 30, 2001 1:30 AM   Subscribe

"Well, at least I got to see the officer squirm a little bit" A man takes pictures, creates a computer simulation, and still manages to get a ticket. More proof that traffic court is about revenue generation and not justice. I still give the guy and "A" for effort.
posted by john (31 comments total)
This stuff makes me go GRRRRRR!!!!!
posted by ookamaka at 1:57 AM on January 30, 2001

Just another frustrating example of idiotic beaurocratic thinking. Every time I read something like this, I have less respect for the government, and the judicial system in particular. Whenever a case like this comes through court, the judge needs to stop being a tool of mindless financial exploitation, and act based with rational, logic, and fairness. It is obvious this individual took NO pride in his position, and has lost touch with the policy of "Innocent until proven guilty". Sure, the ticket may have brought in 50 bucks, but as a result, many people will lose even more faith in our system of justice...
posted by atreyu at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2001 [1 favorite]

They're not all bad. Once, I was pulled over for not obeying a sign that had been knockd to the ground. I told the officer this, but she still gave me the ticket. When court day rolled around, though, she testified (without me asking her to at all) that she'd made a mistake. They let me go without the fines they'd threatened. Still had to pay $50 in court fees, though.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:14 AM on January 30, 2001

Remember: police departments are just businesses making money.
posted by hijinx at 6:15 AM on January 30, 2001

I had a high school buddy who was pulled over for speeding and he didn't believe he had been. He did some research and discovered that the brand new radar used in this locale had a huge margin for error (and was in fact hideous quality equipment) and that he could've been going under the speed limit and still been clocked at well over. The judge pulled him aside and spoke to him off the record. He congratulated him on his research and presentation, but pointed out that if he won, they would have to put into motion a complete replacement of all the new radar units and that wasn't going to happen. Wheels of justice indeed.
posted by plinth at 6:55 AM on January 30, 2001

My high school physics teacher was ticketed by a cop using a handheld radar gun. He challenged the ticket by giving a lecture on how the doppler effect would destroy the accuracy of the gun if the cop had been stepping towards the car while taking the reading.
posted by sudama at 7:47 AM on January 30, 2001

I assume all of the grousers on this thread don't have kids in school. The guy was going THIRTY FIVE as he entered a school zone. Even if the simulation he cooked up showed that the radar must have caught him outside the zone, RADAR IS NOT REQUIRED -- merely the officer's judgement.

It's a school zone. There are kids. Slow the @#$! down.
posted by dhartung at 7:55 AM on January 30, 2001

The guy admits in his screed, "I wasn't even watching my speedometer at the time I passed the school zone sign." Maybe his Einstein friends should tell him to do that rather than counting on computer simulations to save his ass in court.
posted by rcade at 8:38 AM on January 30, 2001

I suppose you always watch your speedometer? On the otherhand, I can recall times when I don't look at my speedometer for long periods of time because I feel like I am under control and driving at a safe speed.
posted by howa2396 at 9:06 AM on January 30, 2001

Watching your speedometer to make sure that you've slowed appropriately when entering a school zone shouldn't even be a question. I don't care what equipment was used to catch a speeder in that situation; 15 mph to an immobile spectator looks like a crawl compared to normal speeds and it is easy to see when someone is going too fast. 35 in a 15 is more than twice the speed limit; visually, it's as easy to pick out as someone doing 120 on a freeway.
posted by Dreama at 9:34 AM on January 30, 2001

For the record, it was a 20 mph zone, not 15.
posted by smackfu at 10:28 AM on January 30, 2001

This reminds me of the cops around here. Toward the end of each month when the police are short of their ticket quota ("such things do not exist!" yeah right), they set up barricades at the end of my block due to the fact that it's a pretty big street coming right off a parkway. They herd in every car in the area and give out tickets for every slightest offense. Word is that if you're a cop, you don't even think about returning to the precinct until you've met your ticket quota.

I also had a teacher who wore a seatbelt in his car as a normal belt just to spite officers; apparently you have to wear a seatbelt but no where does it say that the seatbelt has to be attached to the seat.
posted by tomorama at 10:59 AM on January 30, 2001

Doesn't it bother any of you US tax payers that this guy and his friends (whose wages you pay) are using the Intel Tflops supercomputer (which you paid for) to wheedle out of a speeding ticket?
posted by ceiriog at 1:09 PM on January 30, 2001

posted by Neb at 1:22 PM on January 30, 2001

Police generate revenue by catching motorists disobeying laws.

What if the same model of revenue generating ( tax dollars i'd agree to spend ) would be used for the police to catch criminals?
posted by Zool at 3:02 PM on January 30, 2001

I'll slightly clarify my above post.

You catch a criminal, you or the station you work at gets the money prudent to the crime.
posted by Zool at 3:08 PM on January 30, 2001

That's happening now in some areas of law enforcement.
posted by rcade at 3:45 PM on January 30, 2001

What i'm suggesting is a direct incentive for the police to go out and catch criminals.

Future Scenario : Well done Johnson you busted ten car thief's this month that's going to be one hell of a bonus for you.
posted by Zool at 3:52 PM on January 30, 2001

If that happened, Zool, don't you think the same thing that happens now with tickets would happen with arrests? Cops would probably start arresting people for the stupidest and lightest things, like in movies when they always bust people for assault with a deadly weapon when they whip out the bananas. :)
posted by swank6 at 4:56 PM on January 30, 2001

Um. I don't see anything wrong with what the guy did. It doesn't matter whether he was speeding or not - if he is going to be prosecuted for something, he has the right to demonstrate every possible flaw in the argument against him. In this case the court decided it didn't really matter whether the prosecution's case held water or not, and that's where the injustice lies.

It's perfectly legitimate to get off scot free even if you're guilty. You're only supposed to be punished if they can prove you did it. That's the way the law is supposed to work. When it doesn't work that way, it's broken, even if the guy actually did what he was accused of doing.

And as far as him using computer time at work - geez, how many of us browse metafilter from work? It's not that big a deal... obviously it didn't bother his coworkers.

posted by Mars Saxman at 5:52 PM on January 30, 2001

Also, let's not forget the two items described near the top of his page which he witnessed while waiting for his case to come up. Like others have said traffic court == revenue generation, not justice.
posted by Potsy at 6:00 PM on January 30, 2001

Swank6, no i don't. Traffic court is slightly different from a criminal court. There are already a lot of criminals getting done and they don't all get shafted by the courts. If a cop arrested you for something minor and trivial the courts would be very upset for wasting their time.
posted by Zool at 6:09 PM on January 30, 2001

Well done Johnson you busted ten car thief's this month that's going to be one hell of a bonus for you.

Can you imagine the increase in innocent people arrested for crimes if police were paid bonuses for each collar?
posted by rcade at 6:46 PM on January 30, 2001

Can you imagine the increase in innocent people arrested for crimes if police were paid bonuses for each collar?

Dock 'em double the bonus for false or frivolous arrests.
posted by kindall at 6:59 PM on January 30, 2001

Let's try a little experiment. Stand near any stop sign in a residential neighborhood. Stay there and count the cars that actually come to a complete stop.

You'll get tired of standing there before you reach five.

Cops don't need quotas, because it's too easy for them to find people breaking traffic laws. As for the guy in the article, if he didn't know how fast he was going, and didn't see the police car, then obviously he's not the most attentive fella in the world. Pay attention, or pay the ticket.
posted by Jart at 7:38 PM on January 30, 2001

Kindall, your idea could be initiated NOW to stop the police abusing their power.
posted by Zool at 7:39 PM on January 30, 2001

Sometimes, it seems as though I am the only person in the entire world who obeys traffic laws. I obey all posted speed limits, I come to complete stops at all stop signs, I use my turn signals, I don't floor it trying to beat yellow lights. Yet I see very few people who break traffic laws actually get called on it. Our speed limit on the interstate is 70. I estimate you have to be going 90-95 before the police will pull you over. I have nearly been hit numerous times by drivers (usually in SUVs) speeding, swerving in and out of traffic w/o turn signals, etc. Then, they'll see a police car, hit the brakes and go slower long enough to get past the police car, then start again speeding, driving dangerously, etc.

I know there's probably nothing that can be done about it, but it's still infuriating.

For the record, I'm a teen guy, and YES I have done my share of agressive driving and/or racing, but I do it on the racetrack. There's no chance of hitting a school bus at the local drag strip.
posted by Spirit_VW at 8:53 PM on January 30, 2001

No sympathy here for the speeder or the other folks who want to justify getting caught and/or punished. Doesn't anyone take responsibility for what they have done? Jeez, do the honorable thing.
posted by wiinga at 12:51 AM on January 31, 2001

Mars: No biggy, but this guy's self-righteous and pedantic 'defence' is based on the fact that the cop couldn't have been doing his job properly and dutifully. Using company time and resources to prove his point just seemed a little ironic.

When I last had a proper job I used to goof off as much as possible. It's the best way to feel better about your job, after all.
posted by ceiriog at 5:25 AM on January 31, 2001

The thing I don't understand is why he needed a supercomputer to solve this problem.

You're high school physics hands you this equation:
d = 1/2at^2 + vt
which is the equation for distance as a function of acceleration, initial velocity and time.

If you plug in his clocked velocity, a randge of reasonable accelerations and times to slow down, you can come up with a range of reasonable stopping distances. Compare the lower bound with the distance that he was within the zone and you have a reasonable approximation.

Although acceleration is probably not constant, it's a reasonable assumption, and it turns out to be the assumption that is used to calculate the stopping distances that are in driver's manuals.

As an aside, I had a physics teacher who gave a problem along the lines of: you're diving at x kph, you see a pedestrian in the road at a distance of y kilometers, your reaction time is z seconds before you apply the brakes with acceleration a, what happens? When the test was returned he revealed that all the numbers came directly or were derived from our driver's ed text book.
posted by plinth at 6:50 AM on January 31, 2001

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