Bark's Bites: I Won't Fight This Ticket, But I Should

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, as I drove my brilliant little Ford Fiesta ST on Route 15 through the rolling hills of Kentucky on my way to Kingsport, Tennessee, I was wondering what the topic of my Wednesday column would be.

Thankfully, later in the evening, Kingsport’s Finest solved that issue for me.

In the interest of full transparency, the drive from my home in Central Kentucky to Kingsport should take about four hours, according to MyFordTouch Navigation. I did it in about 3:15, including a stop for a large, unsweetened tea and an apple pie at a McDonald’s along the way. The Fiesta is just too fun for interstate driving, so rather than the I-75 route I could have chosen, I took the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway until I reached Route 15, which took me to US 23 into Virginia and then into Tennessee for the final few miles. Obviously, I didn’t adhere to the posted speed limits for the vast majority of the drive.

Naturally, I had been paying attention and keeping a close eye out for law enforcement on the entire drive, but as I got onto I-26 East for the last few miles of my drive, my attention must have lapsed. Sure enough, just minutes away from my exit — after having completed over two hundred miles of hooning on back roads — I saw the lights flashing in my rear view mirror.

I immediately looked down at my speedometer, which read 62. I was in a 55 mph zone. Seriously, dude? On an empty highway, near midnight, you’re pulling me over for seven over the limit? Fine. Whatever. Let’s just get this over with. I slowed and pulled over to a stop on the shoulder of Exit 1.

Being mindful of the current climate for LEOs, I did my best to put him at ease. I placed both hands on the wheel and waited for him to approach. He was a younger officer, probably in his late twenties.

“License and registration, please.” I dutifully handed my license to him, then alerted him that I’d be going into my glovebox to get the registration.

“You were moving right along, weren’t you?” he asked me.

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “How fast did you clock me at?”

“I had you at eighty in a fifty-five.”

I couldn’t help but snort. “No. Not even possible.”

“Oh, you weren’t, huh?” He smirked at me in his most Police Academy-approved manner.

“Nope. Not even close.” I wasn’t trying to be defiant, but he wasn’t going to get me to admit to a speed that was nothing like what I’d actually been doing.

“Well, I’ve been following you for a few miles.”

“No, you haven’t,” I said, matter-of-factly. “In fact, as you can see, I’ve been on this highway for less than a mile.” I pointed to the Exit 1 sign.

“Oh, I was following you before that.”

“Really? When I was in Virginia?” He was a Kingsport, Tennessee cop. Kingsport is right on the border of Tennessee and Virginia. I had literally passed the “Welcome to Tennessee” sign moments before he pulled me over.

He decided to stop engaging with me at that point. “I’m going to go run your license, and I’ll be right back.”

The young officer returned less than two minutes later with a citation for 70 in a 55. “I kept it at 15 so that I wouldn’t have to haul you in tonight,” he said as he handed me the ticket. “Also, I kept it in city court rather than state so that you wouldn’t have to make a physical appearance. You can just mail in the fine by the court date, which I set for two months from now.”

Aha. Upon further review, he hadn’t “clocked” me at all. He had paced me. He kept the ticket at a reasonable cost — around $100. He also made it much easier for me to pay it than contest it, virtually ensuring that there was no way that I’d come from out of state and actually appear for my court date. My guess is that Officer Jacob sits there and waits for cars to cross the border at night, pegging them with cheap tickets that won’t ever actually appear on their driving records because they’re from out of state — that is, unless they fail to pay it. It’s a foolproof method of revenue generation for the city. They know I won’t contest it, and neither will the dozens of other drivers they pull over for similarly bogus traffic crimes.

As he walked away, Officer Jacob said, “Slow it down, okay? We’ve had three fatality accidents out here recently.” Yes, because driving at 62 in a 55 on a deserted highway is so clearly and obviously unsafe. I’m fortunate that I didn’t kill a busload of children with my reckless behavior.

I absolutely should fight this ticket. I should stand up for the little guy everywhere. I know that I wasn’t going anywhere near 70, much less the 80 he originally claimed. I’d like to pull Officer Pacecar off of his nightly shift and make him show up for my court date, too, just so I can see his dashcam. I’d like to inconvenience anyone and everyone involved in this scam.

But guess what? My time is worth more than the $108.75 this ticket will cost me, and they know that. It won’t appear on my Kentucky license, so it won’t affect my driving record, my job, or my insurance.

In other words, despite the relative injustice of it all, I’ll be mailing a check (I think I still have checks somewhere) to the Kingsport Police Records Division, just like the good little lawbreaker I am. Score one for the good guys.

Actually, in this case, there really are no good guys, are there?

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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  • SirRaoulDuke SirRaoulDuke on Sep 21, 2015

    And this is why I do not speed in little piss-ant towns.

  • Sctknox Sctknox on Sep 27, 2015

    I linked your story to the local counties web page on Facebook pages with lead of "must need more revenue around here". Embarrassing assholes in public inflicts psychological grievous wounds that last a long time.

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