In case you missed my post on Facebook, or are simply not friends with me, I posted in anger on my way to work shortly after receiving a ticket "The police are nothing but whores, and the state is their pimp, telling them who to fuck. My apologies to any actual whores though." I actually thought it was pretty clever, in spite of my incoherent rage at the time.
The reason for the ticket: speeding. Now, if you subscribe to the same line of thinking as most people I know, you are probably saying, "If you weren't speeding, you wouldn't have been pulled over", or perhaps its cousin, "If you didn't do anything wrong, you wouldn't have been ticketed/arrested/beaten to death". Well, we sort of have this idea of presumed innocent until proven guilty in this country, although that can sometimes be misconstrued in today's media-obsessed world.
So before you write me off as some law-breaking, reckless-driving miscreant, at least hear my side of the story. It all started on the typical commute to work. I live off Curry Ford Road, so I usually jump on 417 Northbound and change over to 408 Westbound to head into downtown Orlando.
I always make it a point to know where I am in relation to other drivers around me, and when there are motorcycles I am especially on edge because they can be a bit more unpredictable. So I clearly noted him merging into the right lane and then changing over to the left lane. As he pulled alongside me I finally saw that it was a state trooper's bike, but I did not let that deter me from driving as I was doing nothing wrong. I waited until there was space and changed over to the left lane myself, directly behind the officer.
We continued along in the left lane as a third lane merged into 408 Westbound made up of cars that had been traveling southbound on 417. So now there were three lanes, and I was still behind the cop in the leftmost lane. This is all in the midst of construction and frequent uneven lanes, so as we passed the Goldenrod exit and 408 opens up to four lanes I took the opportunity to get out from behind the motorcycle cop and move to the second lane from the left. I stayed even with him and did not alter my speed in any noticeable way; I chose to move from behind him only because I do not feel comfortable driving behind motorcycles.
We continued on in this fashion for another half-mile or so, and as I looked ahead I could see that my lane and the lane to the right of me were both becoming a bit more congested, but the left lane in which the cop still rode in was moving along at the same pace as us, if not a bit quicker further ahead. I pushed forward slightly so that I had room to change lanes before getting to the traffic in my lane, put on my turn signal, and changed over in front of the police officer.
We go another couple of hundred feet, me in front of the officer, and then the lights come on. While I instantly feared it was for me, I started to look over to the right just to get out of the way. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that he was indicating it was me who was getting pulled over, and he was telling me to pull off to the left. So maybe a quarter mile before the express toll plaza I was forced to pull over onto the left shoulder of the road. The Google Streetview image on the left is a rough approximation of where I was pulled over, but there was far more traffic due to the rush hour crowd.
He approached from the left hand side and asked for my driver's license. I asked him why I had been pulled over. He said that the speed limit is 55 mph and I had been speeding. I told him that I was going the same speed he had been going. He then said that I had passed him. I stated again that I was going the same speed he had been going, so I don't know how I could have been passing him. He fell back to saying, "the speed limit is 55 mph and you were going 70." There was no possibility of reasoning with this officer. When he asked about my driving record and I responded that I currently have a citation I have to pay (from losing traffic court on a previous speeding infraction hearing), I knew I was sunk.
He was back at his motorcycle for some time, so there was no doubt in my mind that I was being cited yet again. When he came back he gave me the grandiose spiel that it seems all officers do: "You were really going 15 over which is $250 ticket, but I cut you some slack and dropped it to 9 over which is only a $129." I pleaded with him that if he was willing to reduce the citation on the spot, why couldn't he just let me off with a warning. He simply said he couldn't do that.
It was at that moment that it was obvious to me that the police are nothing more than money collectors for the state. That he would pull me over during rush hour when I was going no slower or faster than anyone else on the road; force me on to the left shoulder from where it took me two or three full minutes to safely merge safely back into traffic; and write me up for a ticket that he should very well give himself as well--after all, I was matching his speed from the start--is a clear indication that the only thing that matters to state troopers like him are tickets, quotas, and fees.
I will be fighting this ticket. I could have been going 70 miles over the speed limit and I would contest a ticket, because in this country it is still the state's burden to prove without a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. But even more than that, sometimes you just have to fight for what you believe in, and for me that means pushing back against an overbearing government who sees us as nothing more than pocketbooks for their regulatory schemes and spending fantasies.
If just one person who reads this starts scrutinizing the public officials around us more, then I will consider it a win, no matter what the outcome in the courtroom. You have to care for yourself and your loved ones, because the state couldn't give two shits about you. "All [they] wanna know is: where [their] money at?"