Thursday, August 31, 2006

Status

The blip of the siren and the flashing lights on the police car behind me told me I was busted. Good grief, I thought, I can't believe they're pulling me over for this. Due to construction, I was stuck in a long backup. I had to make a left turn about half a block ahead, so to speed my way up I went into the left turn lane and drove the half block in it. Unfortunately, I went into the left turn lane too early, crossing a double yellow line, and the cop got me.

The cop took my license and went back to his car to do whatever they do in there, probably look to see if I'm in the serial killer data base. I've got a good driving record, so I wasn't too worried. As I sat waiting for him, my mind wandered to a conversation we had in the doctor's dining room a few weeks ago. Several people had recounted their experience getting traffic tickets, and a couple told how they tried to use their physician status to get out of a ticket. One doctor, a radiologist, even admitted that he had lied to a cop and said he was on his way to an emergency at the hospital, when he wasn't, and amazingly the cop bought it and let him go. Personally, I find such behavior a little despicable, both lying and taking advantage of your M.D. status.

Now as I sat in my car, though, I wondered: would he go easier on me if he knew I was a doctor? I knew I couldn't lie and tell him I was on my way to an emergency at the hospital. For one thing, I could never pull off a lie like that, even if I wanted to, and for another thing, I was clearly heading into a shopping center - wearing shorts and a polo shirt. But still, could I use my status to somehow influence him to let me off without a ticket?

I pulled my hospital I.D. badge out and placed it in the center console, with my name, face, and the MD clearly showing in the path he would have to look into when he looked through my driver's side window. I felt a little funny about it, though, and chickened out in the end. When he started to walk back to my car I flipped the ID badge over, so he couldn't read it.

He gave me a traffic citation for an illegal lane change that costs 125 bucks. (What a rip off! When did tickets get so expensive?) He was nice, though, and implied that if I went to court for it he might let me off. I know I did the right thing by not telling him I was a doctor, but still, it was quite a temptation. Maybe I should wear my hospital I.D. badge when I go to traffic court....

18 Comments:

Blogger T. Comfyshoes said...

...and then there are the photo tickets, at least where I live, where no amount of status will get you out of them. And there's not a lot that's more humbling than getting a photograph in the mail clearly showing you meandering obliviously through a red light - except the price tag at the bottom of the picture. >:-(

2:32 PM  
Blogger Ex Utero said...

Just go to court. Tell them construction had the traffic pattern all messed up and you felt it was appropriate to disregard the the usual road lines. It usually works as an argument.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually just explain that I am an intergalactic ambassador and thus have diplomatic immunity. I then ask for directions to the nearest teleportation conduit to my home planet Optimus Prime. Works every time.

Lord Regent Usar Quat

8:30 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

I've never pulled the doctor thing on cops or state police. The truth is the thought never crossed my mind.

best,

Flea

8:44 PM  
Blogger Spooner Jenkins said...

Around here everybody knows I'm the mayor so I don't get ticketed. Of course I don't drive in a way that would get me ticketed. Of course we only have one cop, Nort Collier, and he only works until 5pm. After hours people don't drive much unless they are heading to Gilead for one of them wrestling matches or to Strang for the Demolition Derby on Sunday evenings. Personally I don't like to drive. Nothing beats a stroll down Avenue A right here in Belvidere although the folks over on 2nd street might not agree.

9:19 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks for the tips. Next time I've got to try that intergalactic ambassador thing.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Pine Baroness said...

That you would not lie to get out of a ticket, shows you have a lot of character.
Stand tall, knowing you made the ethical decision.
And if you go to court and have the ticket downgraded or dismissed, you have still done it in the proper way, not used your position in life to influence the police.
We need more people like you:-)

12:08 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Been to traffic court. The judge isn't going to care that you're a doctor. If you're arrogant, he might even get pissy about it.

Judges in my state like people who dress respectfully - a tie wouldn't hurt. They appreciate a respectful demeanor also. They also have access to your driving record, so no point telling anything but the truth about that.

Odds are VERY high that if you show up to court and have no recent offenses, you'll be offered probation before judgement, if they do that sort of thing in your state. Means a much smaller fine and no points.

If you get really lucky, the officer won't have but one or two other folks showing up that day and he'll decide he'd rather not go to court, or he could decline to testify. Your response in the situation where there is no officer to testify against you is to plead not guilty.

One thing that makes traffic court judges in my state really snippy is pleading not guilty to speeding charges when the officer has you on radar. I know that doesn't apply in your case, but I went to traffic court with my son and we watched some really slow learners trying to lie to the judge. Makes good entertainment if you're not the one waiting to talk to the judge.

12:31 AM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

I don't see what would have been so wrong with having your ID in an easily viewable spot on the dashboard? It's not as if you would have been lying to the policeman about anything and if he had seen it and decided to let you off then no harm no foul.

It's not as if you had said, "hey, I'm a doctor that takes care of sick premature babies, doesn't that count for something?"

1:10 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

In the state I live in arresting officers NEVER go to traffic court. The baliff reads the charge and police report and then the judge asks you how you plead.

If you plead no contest then the judge will ask you for an explanation as to what happened. He will then decide if you are guilty or not.If you plead not guilty then you end up going back again and usually need to get a Lawyer. Big hassle and would end up being more expensive than the tkt. by far. I would go and plead no contest and get it settled that day.

6:01 AM  
Blogger That Girl said...

Go to court for an hour the day you dont have it and find out how it works. NJ is all about the money - theyll downgrade any ticket and give you no points just so you pay the fine. It's like an assembly line in court.

8:16 AM  
Blogger jennifer said...

oohhh the doctor card. My husband is a firefighter and I inadvertently played the fireman card...we had just settled in to a campsite and he was called away. I was upset and explained why we had to leave so suddenly. The campground hosts refunded our money. I must say, it felt good.

The fact that you didn't play the doctor card says a lot about you. A man of honor! It's a slippery slope, isn't it? Starts with a little justfication here, a little more there, and before you know it, there is a complete air of entitlement.

I haven't played the fireman card since, and also, we have a child with special needs. Sometimes I think about getting one of those handicap parking stickers (excellent parking for the rest of our lives!), but I haven't done that yet either. It goes back to that entitlement mentality. I don't have it and I don't want it.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Surgeon in my dreams said...

Wear scrubs, preferably with bloody smears (fake of course). Wear your mask cocked up on your forehead. Keep your stethoscope around your neck. In your front scrub top pocket, carry a bunch of vials, a prescription pad and several ink pens.

Won't do a bit of good ticketwise, but you'd sure impress all the other "cons" present.

2:34 PM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

Oh I have a speeding ticket sob story. Haha... I was barreling down Rte 322 on the way home from Penn State to Philly to take the GREs. (There is no place close to PSU where they offer the GREs, so I decided to go home to mom and dad's house and take it in Philly.) Earlier that week, I had been diagnosed and treated for pyelonephritis. I'd missed my job because the doctor at the women's health center was very behind, so I'd driven all the way out to this nursing home in the middle of nowhere (a 45 minute drive) only to be told the research work for that day was done, so I didn't get paid and also wasted a good 2 hours out of that day just driving.

Then I got into a car accident. I was trying to pull out of my apartment complex to get to a choir performance, and they had all these construction vehicles along the road so I couldn't really see. They were also re-doing the lanes, and just when I decided it was safe to pull out, this guy comes barrelling down the wrong side in an SUV. So I backed up without looking to see who was behind me, and this was the end result. Plus a $1900 fee for her car... (I no longer have that car...nobody use it to peg who I am! LOL)

So I'm barrelling down rte 322, which is how I started this long ramble...and a cop pulls me over for going 77 in a 55...right outside Harrisburg. That's like, 5 points and $160 fine. I did have a handicapped permit sitting on the passenger seat, albeit not strategically placed on purpose, and I was really hoping that between the permit and the obvious damage to my car, plus a slate clean driving record and my girl-status (although I did not cry crocodile tears), then maybe, just maybe the officer would go easy on me. No such luck. I didn't say more than 2 words to him because I was afraid if I said anything, I'd either cry rivers or unload and get myself into a lot more trouble!

However, as I was pulling away, I called my best friend, bawling my eyes out from the entire horrible week, ending with this gigantic ticket. My dad and I went to court, and my dad name-dropped several of the officer buddies we have (my roommate from nursing school's dad is a sargent with the PA State Police), but it wasn't that that got us off. He mentioned the insurance rates going up for the ticket, and the officer knocked it down to <5mph above speed limit. I still had to pay like $75 or so, but no points.

That sure as hell was a sucky experience. People have told me to get RN on my license plate, but I never have. I like to try to have some integrity now and again. *grin* Oh and about the handicapped plate, I hardly ever use it - trying to reserve it for days when I really dont' feel well or am having worse of a limp or something. If I can, I park wherever there's a spot - I figure the walk is good for me anyways... I got it because I was a student at a huge university and having just gotten out of the hospital (which would happen numerous times), I didn't have the ability to walk down my driveway, let alone across the 3rd biggest campus in the nation...

2:40 PM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

You did the right thing. You're not more special just because you're a doctor. :)

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are commending you for not taking advantage of your physician status. There are comments on how special you are for "having done the right thing ". "We need more people like you", they say. Suggestions on how to reduce the ticket.

The reality is that you felt as though you were too important to wait in line, that your time was more valuable than the others in line before you. You couldn't wait. You knew what you were doing when you did it. You did wrong, you know you did wrong. Pay the fine.

11:40 AM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, all. Anonymous 11:40, the fact that I didn't wait in line had nothing to do with the fact I am a doctor. I didn't think I was more important than the others. I just saw a way to speed my trip. Most of the people ahead of me were not turning left like I was; they had to wait to go straight.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know what kind of car you drive doc, but if the cop is bringing home $30,000 a year, and he sees you're a doctor, maybe he would definitely give you the ticket because he thinks as a
"doctor", you can afford to pay it regardless of how small your salary might be. Why would he assume that you're saving lives and not a podiatrist? (No offense to those who have a passion for feet.)

12:54 PM  

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