True Story – I always wanted a hopped-up muscle car when I was younger. I couldn’t afford one. Now that I’m a lawyer I can, and I have one. It’s a ’70 Mustang, and her name is Bessie. Bessie is the proto-typical juvenile, male-caveman, scratch yourself and drink cheap beer car. Chromed engine, dual exhaust, 250 horsepower, big tires. I’m driving Bessie on Beach Boulevard behind an ancient guy in a beat-up truck. He decides to turn in front of me without a blinker. I accelerate to swerve and avoid him, and this crazy, over-aerobicized woman jumps in front of my car with her hand up.
Meet Ethel, the neighborhood busybody/nuisance. She proceeds to yell in my window, “Hey, slow down, you idiot.” I’m a well-bred, mellow guy by nature, so I ignore this. As I drive away, she yells, “Jerk” at me again. Twice?
I turn around and drive up next to her. “Do you have a problem?” I ask.
“Yeah, why are you driving like an idiot?”
“I was driving like an idiot? How, exactly?”
“You were speeding. I watched you.”
“You were? I see. How did you measure my speed?” (Ever the interrogator)
“I heard you.”
“So, you measured my speed by ear?” (Ed. note: The Doppler Effect could be applicable here)
“I can hear.”
“How fast did you HEAR me going?”
“Look,” she says, “I don’t have to take this. Here comes a cop. I’ll wave him down.”
THE POLICE? This woman is a trip. She waves him down and proceeds to tell him that she observed me speeding. “What happened?” he asks. I tell him the story, saying that I accelerated to an indicated 33 mph (the speed limit is 35) to avoid a collision.
“Are those mufflers legal?” Ethel asks.
She’s pushing it. I reply, “I have a C.A.R.B. exemption for them.” I give the paperwork to the cop. She tries to find another thing to screw me with.
She says, “What about those big tires? They CAN’T be legal.” I begin to feel little overheated gears in the back of my head start to turn.
“These tires were available on the 1970 Boss 429,” I tell the cop, “Which makes them street legal as a replacement.”
Ethel gets angry. She whines, “So you’re not going to give out any tickets to this jerk?”
The cop says, “No, I am not.”
I’ve about had it. So I say, “Sir, this woman told you that she left the street at the corner, and then she met up with my car here. According to Title 39, pedestrians have to cross the street at a right angle. This woman admitted she crossed at a 45-degree angle, which is a ticketable offense.”
“What?” The cop looks confused.
“Also, she told you that she walked in front of my car to stop me. A citizen can’t detain someone without probable cause, under Terry vs. Ohio” (my new favorite case). “Since she couldn’t measure my speed, she had no probable cause to detain me. That is a non-indictable offense.”
The cop says, “But, I didn’t see any of this.”
“But,” I say, “I did, and, as an officer of the Court, I can demand her arrest. I’ll agree to dismiss the Illegal Detention charge, but I want her cited for not crossing at a right angle and Hazardous Conduct on a Public Street.”
The cop calls his Lieutenant, and after the cop tells the story, he authorizes the summonses. She goes home with $215.00 worth of traffic tickets, and they are worth a total of four points against her license, as well as the appropriate insurance surcharge! Of course, if she demands a trial I won’t prosecute. But the look on her face as she walks away is more than enough satisfaction for me. Yeah, I’ve got a law degree, and I’m not afraid to use it.